Uma Thurman, Steve Buscemi, Ethan Hawke headline annual movie gathering.

By Sarah Carpenter

Just days after the autumnal equinox, for everyone across the globe, the days and nights are about equal in length—but ours will be a little extra star-studded.

Who can you thank for the extra sparkle in our corner of the world this fall? Meira Blaustein, cofounder and executive director of The Woodstock Film Festival (WFF), an annual event since 2000 that’s powered through the pandemic lockdown—in 2020, they took the movies outside using drive-in theaters including the Greenville Drive-In, in some cases setting up their own outdoor screen, car horns honking and lights flashing as a new form of applause—and came out the other side with a return to indoor film screenings the following year. 

This year, the eve of their 25th anniversary, WFF honors director, producer and screenwriter James Ivory with a Lifetime Achievement Award. They’ll be showing his 2009 film, The City Of Your Final Destination. 

The festival also includes world premieres including Jane Weinstock’s Three Birthdays and noir thriller Stockade, but Blaustein says the programming isn’t just about the premieres. “It’s about the good films and the filmmakers we want to support,” she says.

Tim Blake Nelson produced and stars in Asleep In My Palm, another world premiere at WFF, and the directorial debut of his son, Henry Nelson. The screening is followed by a Q&A with dad and son. 

Another family collaboration on the festival screen is The Kill Room (2023), in which area resident (and movie star) Uma Thurman shares the screen with daughter Maya Hawke. Her father, actor Ethan Hawke, was honored at last year’s WFF, where he said, “Events such as the Woodstock Film Festival are some of the few places where films aren’t viewed as units of sale, judged on their value of commerce…I’ve been to many festivals all around the world, but this is one of my favorites.” 

2023’s edition of WFF’s programming features a not-to-be-missed panel of actors who direct—moderated by another local thespian, Mary Stuart Masterson—including Steve Buscemi (The Listener), Matthew Modine (I Am What You Imagine) and Brittany Snow (Parachute).

And as if the constellation of actors and directors weren’t enough, several live music performances pair with screenings this year: The Zombies following Hung Up On A Dream: The Zombies Documentary; Kiefer Sutherland after Texas Music Revolution; The Maverick Sextet following Fioretta and more.

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