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well represented at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival & 2008 Academy Awards
Hudson Valley fertile ground for filmmakers, actors, and movies

(Woodstock, NY) January 29, 2008 -  January was an exciting month for the Woodstock Film Festival and the Hudson Valley, as both Academy Awards nominations and Sundance Film Festival awards were presented.

“We're thrilled to see the growth in quality and stature in both the talent that comes out of our region, and in the caliber of films the Woodstock Film Festival shows and nurtures,” said WFF co-founder and executive director Meira Blaustein.

Every other year, the Sundance Film Festival has a tradition of awarding a major award to a film with major ties to the Hudson Valley. This year, two films have that honor - FROZEN RIVER and MAN ON WIRE.

In 2002, the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Rebecca Miller's PERSONAL VELOCITY: THREE PORTRAITS. A second prize for best cinematography was presented to Ellen Kuras. In 2004, Debra Granik's DOWN TO THE BONE won for best director and a special  jury prize for best performance by Vera Farmiga. In 2006, New Paltz native Hilary Brougher was award the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for STEPHANIE DALEY, in addition to a nomination for Grand Jury Prize. All three films were shot locally in Ulster, Orange and Greene Counties and featured many local crew and cast members.

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival, which just wrapped on Sunday, has presented this year’s Grand Jury Prize for Drama to FROZEN RIVER, starring Ulster County's own Melissa Leo (21 Grams, 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada). After screaming "Cinema, BABY!  This film rocks my ass!" Quentin Tarrantino presented the prize to director Courtney Hunt. "I believe in a universe of abundance and every filmmaker here will find their perfect audience, and hopefully a ginormous one," enthused "Frozen River" director Courtney Hunt." And thanking lead actress Melissa Leo, she said, "To Melissa, most of all... four years she stood by me and never gave up faith that this would become a feature film and that I would direct it."

Filmed in sub-zero weather in upstate New York, March of 2007, FROZEN RIVER – Courtney Hunt’s directorial debut– stars Hudson Valley actor Melissa Leo.  Hunt developed the feature, set in a real-life smuggling zone on a Native American reservation between New York State and Quebec where the lure of fast money presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be making minimum wage. Strapped for money and having been deserted by her husband, working class Ray (Melissa Leo), reluctantly teams up with Lila (Misty Upham), a widowed Mohawk Indian, to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River from Canada to the U.S. in the trunk of a Dodge Spirit. Both women swear each trip will be their last, but one final run across the river leads to a showdown with the law on all sides.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary and World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was awarded to MAN ON WIRE by James Marsh. Partly shot in Ulster County, the film recounts the remarkable high wire stunt between New York City's twin towers by current Ulster County resident Philippe Petit. The 1974 event would become an act of incomparable beauty and imagination. Through candid interviews, archival footage, dramatizations and visual effects, the adventures of Petit and his accomplices are brought back to life. First captured in his biographical book, To Reach the Clouds : My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers is an enraptuous page-turner.

Select 2008 Sundance Awards include:

World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary  and World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary - MAN ON WIRE (about Ulster County resident Philippe Petit)

Honorable Mentions in Short Filmmaking - include AQUARIUM (Best Student Short Award Winner at the  2007 WFF)

Audience Award for Documentary - FIELDS OF FUEL (exec-produced by Stephen Nemeth, WFF's Advisory Board Member)

Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Cast - Sam Rockwell (WFF alum), Anjelica Huston, Kelly MacDonald, Brad Henke, for CHOKE

Directing Award for Documentary - Nanette Burstein for AMERICAN TEEN (produced by WFF sponsors Molly Thompson and Ryan Harrington of A&E Indie Films)

Grand Prize for Documentary - TROUBLE THE WATER (marketing and publicity strategist Judy Arthur, WFF Advisory Board Member)

Grand Jury Prize for Drama - FROZEN RIVER  (starring WFF's close friend and Hudson Valley resident Melissa Leo; shot in Upstate NY)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Select 2008 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards nominations include:

AMERICAN GANGSTER, which was partially shot at Stewart Airport in Orange County, NY received the following nomaitnations:
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Achievement in Art Direction

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (the opening night film of the 2007 WFF) received four nominations including:
Achievement in Cinematography
Achievement in Directing (Julian Schnabel)
Achievement in Film Editing
Adapted Screenplay

FREEHELD which was directed by Hudson Valley native Cynthia Wade and featured at the 2007 WFF is nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject

I’M NOT THERE (the closing night film of the 2007 WFF directed by Todd Haynes and produced by Christine Vachon) is nominated for Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Cate Blanchett)

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, written by Nancy Oliver (special screening at WFF 2007) is nominated for Original Screenplay

, which was partially shot in Orange County, NY received 7 nominations including:
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Geaorge Clooney)
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Wilkinson)
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Tilda Swinton)
Achievement in Directing (Tony Gilroy)
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Original Screenplay (Tony Gilroy)


Half of this dynamic duo directing team likes to unwind at their Hudson Valley home. We'd like to think the Hudson Valley inspires movie magic.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Achievement in Cinematography
Achievement in Directing
Achievement in Film Editing
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Achievement in Sound Editing
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Adapted Screenplay

SALIM BABA, from Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello, received the award for best short doc at the 2007 WFF and a Academy Award nomination for
Best Documentary Short Subject

WAR/DANCE (winner of audience award and Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography at the 2007 WFF, received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature

As a side note, we would like to congratulate WFF Advisory Board member Ellen Chenoweth for the astounding number of nominations she was involved with as casting director for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role) and MICHAEL CLAYTON (Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role)

Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck!


The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promotes artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity. The 9th annual event will be held October 1 - 5 2008.

The Hudson Valley Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development by attracting, supporting and promoting regional film, video, and media production.


Frozen River

Man on Wire

P.O Box 1406, Woodstock, NY 12498 - (845) 679-4265 - -