CONTACT: Angela DeMarta, Deputy Press Director or 845-679-4265
• Click here for full online schedule with ticket info
• Click here for pre-fest PDF


Woodstock, NY (October 2, 2014) - The 15th Annual Woodstock Film Festival presents a slate of panels that will entertain and enlighten its film-loving audience. Participants include A-list actors, industry icons, and both veteran and emerging filmmakers who will explore such topics as music in film (with jazz legend Hugh Masekela), the transition of a story from page to screen, women in the director's chair (including Emmy winner Courteney Cox), the intricacies of landing a role in a film, and more.

"The Woodstock Film Festival's panels are among my favortie," said Meira Balustein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Woodstock Film Festival, "bringing many of today's most accomplished and talented creative forces in the independent film industry together with our audience for in depth and frank discussions about their respective areas of expertise."

The panels will take place Friday, October 17 through Sunday, October 19 at the Kleinert James Art Center in Woodstock, NY. Tickets can be purchased online at


• Music in Film - moderated by Doreen Ringer-Ross with Hugh Masekela
and Filmmaker Michael Lessac

• Women in the Director's Chair - moderated by Thelma Adams with directors Courteney Cox, Debra Granik, Leah Meyerhoff, and Jenna Ricker

• Impact Filmmaking - moderated by Robin Bronk with producer Jedd Wider, directors Joe Berlinger, Jon Bowermaster and Ali Akbarzadeh

• Long and Short Stories - moderated by Bradley Jacobs with Ron Nyswaner

• A Conversation with Darren Aronofsky, hosted by Logan Hill

• Actors' Dialogue - moderated by Martha Frankel with Bruce Greenwood and others TBA

• Novel to Screen - moderated by Thelma Adams with Tony Kushner, Malia Scotch-Marmo, and Lucy Alibar

• Casting By - moderated by Claude dal Farra with Gayle Keller, Cindy Tolan and Melissa Leo

PANEL: Music in Film - Music as the Unifying Force

Doreen Ringer-Ross
Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela

Michael Lessac

Join BMI's Doreen Ringer Ross as she chats with jazz legend and political activist, Hugh Masekela, along with director Michael Lessac about their collaboration on the film A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake as well as Masekela's rich musical career in general.

Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned flugelhornist, singer and defiant political voice who remains deeply connected at home, while his international career sparkles. He was born in the town of Witbank, South Africa in 1939. He first picked up a horn at age 14, and is still blowing strong at 75. He spent much of his life in exile, during which time he released over 40 albums (and is featured on countless more) and worked with legends like Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, The Byrds, Miles Davis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Paul Simon and the late Miriam Makeba. Masekela has been honored with a Grammy Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award at WOMEX and had March 18th proclaimed 'Hugh Masekela Day' in the US Virgin Islands. Masekela is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, while continuing a lively international tour schedule. He recently started his own label: House of Masekela under which he released his latest album Playing @ Work.

Director/producer Michael Lessac wrote and directed the feature film House of Cards starring Tommy Lee Jones and Kathleen Turner. He has directed sixteen pilots and over 200 television episodes, among them Taxi, Newhart, Grace Under Fire, The Drew Carey Show, Just Shoot Me, and Everybody Loves Raymond.

For the stage, Mr. Lessac has directed at the National Theatre of Yugoslavia, The Guthrie Theatre, The Denver Theatre Center, The Arena Stage, The Kennedy Center, The Hartman Stage and The Public Theatre in New York City. He was also founder and artistic director of the Colonnades Theatre Lab in New York where he produced and directed over thirty productions with a company of established actors, playwrights, and composers. He is founder and artistic director of Global Arts Corps, which seeks to develop new theatre pieces around the world highlighting the struggle for justice, basic human dignity, and the possibility of perceptual change.

Friday 10/17, 3:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: Women in the Director's Chair

Thelma Adams
Courteney Cox

Debra Granik
Leah Meyerhoff
Jenna Ricker

Women directors are notoriously underrepresented in Hollywood, with recent polls estimate only 2% - 4.4% of all Hollywood directors are female. Women are better represented in independent film, with the percentages jumping when a female screenwriter or director is involved. As filmmakers and audiences increasingly value telling the authentic stories by and about women, female writers and directors are finding more and more ways to collaborate to bring these narratives to the screen.

Join a group of accomplished female feature filmmakers as they share their film's journey and reveal what they are doing to close the gender gap in film.

Moderator: Thelma Adams is the contributing editor at Yahoo! Movies. St. Martin’s Press published her debut novel "Playdate", an O Magazine pick. She was the film critic at Us Weekly from 2000 - 2011, following six years at the New York Post. She has twice chaired the New York Film Critics Circle, where she has been a member since 1995. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, The New York Observer, Parade, Variety, Marie Claire, The Huffington Post, More, Interview Magazine, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Cosmopolitan and Self.


Courteney Cox best known for her role as Monica in the Emmy® Award winning comedy Friends and for her Golden Globe® nominated role in Cougar Town, made her feature film directorial debut with her dark comedy film, Just Before I Go. Additional directorial credits include the Lifetime Original Movie, Talhotblond, and the drama Monday Before Thanksgiving for Glamour's Reel Moments Project. In addition, she has directed numerous episodes of Cougar Town. In 2004, Cox established her own production company, Coquette. Projects have included: Cougar Town, Dirt, Mix It Up, Daisy Does America, and The Tripper

Debra Granik 
is the Academy Award® nominated director and co-writer of Winter's Bone, which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Granik and co-writer Anne Rosellini were Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her first feature film, Down to the Bone, won Granik the Best Director prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

Leah Meyerhoff’s debut feature film, I Believe in Unicorns, premiered in the narrative competition of SXSW 2014 and is currently traveling the film festival circuit. Her previous short films have screened in over 200 film festivals and won dozens of awards. Leah is a Tribeca Film Institute mentor and the founder of Film Fatales, a female filmmaker collective based in New York.

Jenna Ricker wrote, directed and produced her first feature film, Ben's Plan, a coming of age drama starring Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief, Pride) and made on a micro-budget, it was awarded Best Drama at the AOF Festival, Distinguished Debut at the London Independent Film Festival, and was honored with the Mira Nair Award for Rising Female Filmmaker.

Saturday 10/18, 10:00am Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: Impact Filmmaking

Robin Bronk
Joe Berlinger
Joe Berlinger
Jedd Wider
Jedd Wider
Jon BowermasterJon Bowermaster
Ali Akbarzadeh

Independent filmmakers have been known to devote their lives, time, money, work, hearts and souls into issue films with the hope of making an impact and effecting change in others' lives. They may choose to shine a light on a problem in a remote part of the world, or on an environmental concern or social problem, looking to inspire and mobilize. But is there success at the end of all that work? Do their labors of love really change anything? How many Supersize Me and An Inconvenient Truths can there be our world? This panel of dedicated filmmakers (with a cause) will examine these questions as they try to come up with answers for when, how and why some films can be a tool for change.

Moderator: Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition—the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment industry. As CEO, Bronk is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating the entertainment industry and arts community on issues of public importance, particularly the First Amendment, arts advocacy, arts in education, and media literacy. She has published three books, Art & Soul (Hearst Communications) and If You Had Five Minutes With the President (Harper Collins), and the upcoming Art of Discovery (in bookstores October 14th from Rizzoli Publishing).


Academy Award® and seven-time Emmy nominated and Peabody winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger, whose films include the landmark documentaries Brother's Keeper, the Paradise Lost Trilogy and Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster, a film that redefined the rockumentary genre. Crude, about oil pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, won 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards and Under African Skies, about Paul Simon's seminal album, was nominated for three primetime Emmy awards. Recently Berlinger completed Hank: 5 Years From The Brink for Netflix and WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, which was released by Magnolia Pictures this summer.

Emmy Award winning producer Jedd Wider has produced along with his brother Todd numerous critically and commercially successful feature documentary films including King's Point (2012) nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short, the multiple Primetime Emmy Award and Peabody Award winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012), the Emmy Award nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful(2011), the multiple Emmy Award nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010), and Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) the 2008 Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary, a 2008 Peabody Award Winner and 2009 Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary. He was nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures.

Jon Bowermaster’s most recent documentaries are Dear Governor Cuomo, a unique look at the controversy surrounding fracking in New York State and Antarctica 3D, On the Edge. Films in-production include Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice, Free Swim: Maldives and “After the Spill. A six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council and award-winning writer and filmmaker Bowermaster was recently named one of a dozen Ocean Heroes by the NGS. Author of twelve books, his companion book to the Jacques Perrin/DisneyNature film Oceans was published alongside the film’s U.S. premiere.

Ali Akbarzadeh is an independent filmmaker born in the mountains of Colorado. At some point in the late 90’s he made the pilgrimage to California where he studied at the American Film Institute and graduated at the top of his class from California State University of Long Beach.

After a brief stint as a Persian music video director, he co-founded Akorn Entertainment, where he directed several award winning commercials and short documentaries. Killswitch is his first feature length documentary.

Saturday 10/18, 12:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: Long and Short Stories, A Conversation with Ron Nyswaner with Bradley Jacobs, US Weekly Editor

Ron Nyswaner
Bradley JacobsBradley Jacobs

From Philadelphia to Ray Donovan: writing and producing films and series in television's "second golden age."

Ron Nyswaner's writing and producing career has taken him through the major shifts in the film and television industry, from independent films to breakthrough Hollywood dramas, award winning television movies and, most recently, a hit cable series. In a lively and insightful conversation with US Weekly editor, Bradley Jacobs, Nyswaner will discuss the attraction of series television for writers; the pleasures and challenges of telling a story over several years rather than two hours; how the relationships between writers and directors differs in television versus film; the thrill (and terror) of producing twelve hours of drama that must be written, shot, and edited in a matter of weeks; what really goes on in a writers' room; and why the writer is the industry's new auteur.

Nyswaner's credits include the first independent American film to be selected for Main Competition at the Cannes Film Festival Smithereens; one of the most memorable and influential Hollywood dramas of recent times Philadelphia; a critically acclaimed and controversial cable television film Soldier's Girl; and the first American-Chinese co-production of an independent film The Painted Veil. He has spent the last two years writing and producing Showtime's hit series, Ray Donovan, and his gay-marriage themed Freeheld is currently shooting in New York, with Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, and Michael Shannon. He now lives in Los Angeles but considers Woodstock his real home.

Hosted by: Us Weekly editor Bradley Jacobs (aka BJ) directs film coverage and appears regularly on TV. He lives with his partner Jack and two VIPs: their dog, Dexter, and a son, Lucas, 3.

Saturday 10/18, 2:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: A Conversation with Darren Aronofsky

Logan HillLogan Hill
Darren AronofskyDarren Aronofsky

An intimate conversation with Academy Award® nominated director Darren Aronofsky, the recipient of the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival Honorary Maverick Award.

Moderator: Logan Hill is a freelance journalist and critic who regularly contributes to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, New York, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mens Journal, This American Life, and others. You can find links to his stories at or follow him on Twitter @loganhill33.

Panelist Academy Award® nominated director Darren Aronofsky's first feature, was made with the actors and crew donating their time for the piece of the Pi. He followed with Requiem for a Dream, which was named to over 150 Top Ten lists, The Fountain, a science-fiction romance starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, and The Wrestler, which garnered Academy Award® nominations for stars Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Aronofsky followed with Black Swan, which won Natalie Portman the Academy Award® for Best Actress and received four other nominations, including one for Best Picture. His most recent film Noah, starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim and box office success.

Saturday 10/18, 5:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: Actors' Dialogue

Martha FrankelMartha Frankel
Bruce GreenwoodBruce Greenwood

Grab a cup of coffee and join a conversation with actors Bruce Greenwood

Moderator: Whether she’s one-on-one in an intimate talk, or leading a discussion with a variety of actors, Martha Frankel’s entertaining Actors panels are one of the festival’s highlights.For more, visit www.

Join some of today's most engaging actors as they chat about their work and their lives.


Bruce Greenwood’s rich acting career includes starring roles opposite Denzel Washington in the Oscar nominated drama Flight, opposite Paul Rudd and Steve Carell in Dinner for Schmucks, opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote and opposite Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There. Greenwood recently wrapped production on Queen of the Night for acclaimed Canadian director Atom Egoyan, marking their fifth film together. His previous Egoyan’s films include Devils' Knot opposite Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, the lead role in Exotica and a starring role in The Sweet Hereafter as well as the drama Ararat. He will next be seen in the dramathriller Good Kill opposite Ethan Hawke, premiering September at the Venice Film Festival. He recently wrapped the drama Father’s and Daughters opposite Russell Crowe.

Other panelists TBA

Sunday 10/19, 10:00am Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: From Novel to Screen

Thelma Adams
Lucy Alibar
Lucy Alibar
Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner
Malia Scotch-MarmoMalia Scotch-Marmo

The Writers Guild of America, East gathers Lucy AlibarBeasts of the Southern Wild, The Secret Garden; Tony KushnerMunich, Lincoln; Malia Scotch-Marmo Hook, Madeline and moderator Thelma Adams to discuss the challenge of adapting books for the screen. They will explore the advantages and hazards of reworking someone else’s original concept for a different medium, including the issue of responsibility both to the author and the pre-existing audience. They will reveal the most effective innovations, as well as some of the classic pitfalls they’ve discovered through their own work.

Moderator: Thelma Adams is the contributing editor at Yahoo! Movies. St. Martin’s Press published her debut novel "Playdate," an O Magazine pick. She was the film critic at Us Weekly from 2000 - 2011, following six years at the New York Post. She has twice chaired the New York Film Critics Circle, where she has been a member since 1995. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, The New York Observer, Parade, Variety, Marie Claire, The Huffington Post, More, Interview Magazine, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Cosmopolitan and Self.


Lucy Alibar’s work has been published in Zoetrope, the Oxford American, and the Wall Street Journal. Work seen at National Theatre Studio, Joe’s Pub, Ojai, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Williamstown, HERE, EST, Dixon Place, New Georges, Avignon Festival, Women Center Stage/CSC, and the Cherry Lane. Her first movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild (an adaptation with Benh Zeitlin of her stage play, Juicy and Delicious) received the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Film Festival Camera D’Or. For her work on Beasts she was nominated for the Scripter, BAFTA, and Academy Award® Winner of the Ray Bradbury Nebula Award, the Humanitas Prize, and the Nantucket Film Festival New Voices in Screenwriting Award. Sundance Screenwriting Fellow, two time finalist for the Heideman Award at ATL, and finalist for the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference.

Tony Kushner
: PLAYS: A Bright Room Called Day; Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; Caroline, or Change, with composer Jeanine Tesori; The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide To Capitalism And Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures. OPERA: A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck, with Tesori. ADAPTATIONS/TRANSLATIONS: Corneille's The Illusion, Ansky's The Dybbuk, Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children; the libretto for Hans Krasa’s opera Brundibár. SCREENPLAYS: Mike Nichols' Angels In America; Steven Spielberg's Munich and Lincoln. BOOKS: The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; Brundibar, and Wrestling With Zion,

Malia Scotch–Marmo wrote Steven Spielberg’s fantasy, Hook, and also served as associate producer on the film. Her first produced film was Once Around, directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Scotch-Marmo also received story credit for Madeline. Her uncredited work includes Jurassic Park, The Other Sister, Only You, Enchanted, and Polar Express. She has collaborated with many established directors on produced and unproduced material, including Norman Jewison, Alfonso Cuaron, Alfonso Arau, Luis Mandoki, Sabiha Sumar, Garry Marshall, and Rob Reiner. Scotch-Marmo graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in film. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia Graduate Film School, and taught at la FEMIS in Paris. Recently, Scotch-Marmo co-wrote Good Morning Karachi with the film's director, Sundance Institute Lab alumna Sabiha Sumar. Currently, Scotch-Marmo is adapting School for Good and Evil with cowriter and novelist Soman Chainani. Scotch-Marmo is also developing a compilation film of five short films written and directed by Rwandan filmmakers.

Sunday 10/19 12:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

PANEL: Casting By

ClaudeClaude dal Farra
Gayle KellerGayle Keller
Cindy TolanCindy Tolan
melissa leoMelissa Leo

Casting Directors, while often the unsung heroes, are among the most instrumental and crucial elements in the success (or failure) of any given film. Sought after by actors and directors alike, they make careers and give the project, on film and/or television, its successful edge. We have assembled some of today’s hottest casting directors to shed light on the intricacies of the casting process and share some anecdotes from their experiences, working with some of today’s most exciting actors and directors.

Moderator: Claude dal Farra is the president of BCDF and the producer of Bachelorette, Liberal Arts, Peace Love & Misunderstanding, Why Stop Now, Higher Ground, The Last Keepers, and Rhymes with Banana.


Gayle Keller
, an independent New York casting director who has worked with Todd Solondz on Life During Wartime and Dark Horse; Cedric Klapisch on Casse-tete Chinois (Chinese Puzzle); and Phil Morrison on All Is Bright. Gayle is currently working on Kelly Reichardt’s new feature and the fifth season of the television series, Louie.

Melissa Leo received an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for her performance in The Fighter. She can next be seen in The Equalizer with Denzel Washington and in the upcoming FOX series Wayward Pines from director M. Night Shyamalan.

Cindy Tolan is a casting director for film, TV and theatre. Film credits include, This Is Where I Leave You, Winters Tale, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Go For Sisters, The Place Beyond The Pines, Blue Valentine, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, Letters To Juliet, Sugar, The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, The Darjeeling Limited, The Namesake, Sherrybaby, Kinsey, Starting Out In The Evening, The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, Personal Velocity, Loggerheads, Casa De Los Babys,and Angela.

Sunday 10/19, 2:00pm Kleinart James Art Center in Woodstock

• Click here for more information on panels
• Click here for full online schedule with ticket info

• Click here for pre-fest PDF


About the Woodstock Film Festival:
Hailed by Indiewire as "A true American Maverick Among Fests," the Woodstock Film Festival premieres exceptional films, hosts the most talented emerging and established professionals in the movie industry, presents A-list concerts, panels and parties, and creates stimulating, innovative programming year-round.

The Woodstock Film Festival is a non-profit, 501c3 organization with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning and diversity.

The Woodstock Film Festival will celebrate its 15th Annual Festival October 15-19, 2014, with an extraordinary lineup of fiercely independent films, panels, concerts and special events in Woodstock, NY and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck, Kingston, Rosendale and Saugerties.

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