(Woodstock, NY) 9/24/00: What were Haskell Wexler, D. A. Pennebaker, Les Blank, Barbara Kopple, Elmer Bernstein, Aidan Quinn, David Strathairn, Ron Nyswaner, Zachary Sklar, Leon Gast, Warren Adler,
Stephen Nemith, Eamonn Bowles, Gill Holland, Bruce Malmuth, Martha Frankel, Nancy Abraham, Peter Saraf, and a score of other film world luminaries doing this past weekend?

They were all participating in the First Annual Woodstock Film Festival, which ended its five day run of screenings, seminars, concerts and galas in Woodstock, NY to rave reviews by filmmakers and audiences. Nearly every event was sold out.

As summed up by Tom Hodges, director of the short Last Request: "I've been to film festivals all over the world, and I've never seen such community support for film, not only from the people who volunteered their time and services, but also from all those who came out to see the films and participate in the other events."

"It's a pleasure to bring my film into an envirnment that's not totally about business," said Melissa Painter whose film, "Wildflowers," was co-presented by New York Women in Film and Television to a sold out house.

Stephen Nemeth, President of Rhino Films, hailed the festival as "unpretentious and genuine", while Haskell Wexler could be seen dancing the night away at the innovative Stop Making Sense dance party.

The Maverick Awards, sponsored by Winstar Cinema, were presented to a diverse slate of filmmakers. Emceed by Martha Frankel, celebrity interviewer for the New York Times among other national publications, the following films were honored:

Best Feature Film--Dream Catcher by Ed Radtke --The paths of two juvenile runaways merge in this funny and touching film.

Best Documentary-Freestyle by Kevin Fitzgerald -- a mesmerizing look at the street poetry that is African-American hip-hop.

Best Short Documentary--The Sunshine by Phil Bertelsen -- an intimate exploration of one of NY's skidrow's last remaining flop houses.

Best Short Film--A Feeling of Glory by Coreen Mayrs -- a simultaneously morbid and life affirming story based on an oddball friendship.

Best Student Film--Landscape by Nick Regalbuto -- explores the strange things that people do on hot days, beginning with the drinking of a glass of water.

Additionally, an Honorary Maverick Award was presented to Les Blank, a legendary filmmaker whose commitment to artistry, education and social responsibility has resulted in his creation of uniquely life-affirming films that preserve fifty years of American Culture. This award was presented to Blank by D.A PENNEBAKER (Startup.com, Woodstock Diary, Moon Over Broadway, The War Room).

Awards were sponsored by Cineric, Inc and Tapehouse NY.

The jurists included:
Julie Goldman (Wintar), Nancy Abraham (HBO), Mike Maggiore (Film Forum), Gill Holland (CineBlast), Sabine Hoffman (Editor), Lisa Krueger (Director, Screenwriter), Sarah Plant (Film Composer), Catherine Delbuono (Show Your Shorts), Larry Russo (Short Cuts), Shawn Calia Folz (ReelShort.com), Zachary Sklar (Screenwriter, JFK), and Barbara Salzman (Alternative Video).

Other winners included Giuseppe Asarro whose film "A Voice From Heaven" was picked up on the first day of the festival; by Winstar. "The Most beautiful thing is by being at the festival and being the first film at the festival. It is a big success to have secured distribution.

The First Annual Woodstock Film Festival ended on a high note, with filmmakers and industry executives lending praise and pledging support for next year's event. For more information about the WFF, contact co-founders Meira Blaustein and Laurent Rejto at (845) 679-4265, or go to www.woodstockfilmfestival.com .

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