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Williamstown Film Festival Tickets on Sale

Rural Intelligence ArtsSuitably enough, the highlight of the first weekend of the 11th Annual Williamstown Film Festival (October 23 - 25; second weekend, October 29 - November 1), will be dinner and a movie on Saturday night.  The annual benefit dinner is being held this year at Mezze’s new catering facility in Williamstown.  The film that follows, Against the Current,was written and directed by Peter Callahan who, in 2004, read an earlier version of the screenplay at the Williamtown Festival.  His feature film screens at 8 p.m. at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in nearby North Adams.

Callahan, who grew up in the Hudson Valley and currently lives in Westchester County, has made a film that is likely to resonate with local audiences.  The principal action takes place in a familiar setting seen from a curious point of view.  During much of the film, the protagonist swims in the Hudson River, covering 150 miles between Troy and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  His reasons are only gradually revealed to both the audience and his companions in the escort boat.  The swimmer, Paul Thompson (Joseph Fiennes), a financial writer, is struggling with a tragic loss.  He decides to distinguish himself by doing something unique.  What ensues is a physical journey and an emotional one that explores the psychological devastation that grief can wreak.

Among the other highlights in this year’s roster:

Beyond Greenaway: The Legacy, a sequel to Sarah Gilbert’s 1982 documentary, Greenaway, which examined her parents values and unusual lifestyle.  One of six children, Gilbert grew up amidst great wealth on a private island in Long Island Sound near Greenwich, CT.  Today she is approaching the age of her parents when the first film was made.  In the sequal Gilbert and her siblings look back with sympathy and affection at their foibles, eccentricities, and paranoia (they firmly believed that a Communist takeover of the U.S. was imminent, and that they were in grave personal danger; back then, at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution!).  Gilbert will be at the breakfast seminar preceding the film, as will Callahan and David Brind, who wrote the screenplay for Dare, another film being screened.  Their topic: “Life into Art.”

Rural Intelligence ArtsMart Crowley’s play The Boys in the Band opened the year before Stonewall and is believed to be the first theater piece to focus exclusively on the everyday lives of gay men.  In his film Making the Boys, through interviews with Edward Albee, Robert Wagner, Larry Kramer, Dominick Dunne, Dan Savage, Michael Musto, Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, Paul Rudnick, Carson Kressley, Michael Cunningham, and Marc Shainman, documentarian Crayton Robey explores the hostility gay people endured and their euphoria in the 60s and 70s as they emerged from the closet en masse.  This screening will be preceded by a lunch seminar with the film director and part-time Columbia County resident James Ivory.

Rural Intelligence ArtsIn an era when political news is entertainment 24/7, when “Joe the Plumber” can, in a matter of weeks, become a political commentator with a global reach, when a little-known Alaskan governor can be transformed overnight into a “world leader,”  the media that enable all of this deserve closer scrutiny.  In his documentary Poliwood, the esteemed feature film director Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) explores the fusion of politics, celebrity, entertainment, and the people who decide what’s news.

Rural Intelligence ArtsWhen director Richard Shepard was a boy, his dad took him to see The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. He was particularly taken by the character Fredo.  “There was something about the sadness and loneliness and oddness of the guy.”  Years later, Shepard decided to learn everything he could about John Cazale, the actor who played Fredo, but there was little information, except that he had appeared in just five movies—The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter—before dying of cancer at 42.  “...five great movies that were nominated for Best Picture,” Shepard says. “If he were a baseball player, he’d be in the Hall of Fame. He was five for five.”  So he set out to make a documentary.  In the end, I Knew It Was You may be less about Cazale than about the colleagues he influenced—Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Lumet, and Meryl Streep, to whom he was engaged at the time of his death.

One of the most popular components of the Williamstown Festival is the emphasis placed on short films, which are scattered throughout the schedule.  A feature film in this year’s line-up, Dare, started as a well-received short. 

Williamstown Film Festival Tickets
Weekend passes: $85 (weekend 1) & $120 (weekend 2)
All festival pass: $205
Benefit dinner and film: $100 (not covered by passes)

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 10/06/09 at 09:10 AM • Permalink