FilmColumbia Announces 2015 Festival Events

FilmColumbia announces a diverse mix of film events including Q&As, filmmaker appearances, celebrations and industry insider panel discussions scheduled throughout this year’s 7-day festival in Hudson and Chatham, NY.

Saturday, October 24, 10:00am at the Tracy Memorial, 77 Main Street in Chatham, festival Executive Director and Vanity Fair contributing editor Peter Biskind, author of seven books on film and culture, with an eighth, “The Eve of Destruction: Adventures in Extreme Culture” due next summer, moderates a panel discussion on the current state of American filmmaking with industry experts Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for “Entertainment Weekly” since its founding and now with the BBC; John Orloff, eminent screenwriter (“Band of Brothers,” “A Mighty Heart”); Deborah Shaffer, Oscar winning documentary filmmaker (“Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists,” playing at this year’s FilmColumbia festival); Harry Chotiner, former VP at Twentieth Century Fox; and Eugene Hernandez, a founder of IndieWire and the Director of Digital Strategy at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Bagels and coffee are included in the $15 ticket, available at or at the door the day of the event.

For the whole family, FilmColumbia’s unique “Children’s International Short Program,” sponsored by Hudson River Bank & Trust Company Foundation, screens Saturday, October 24, 10:00am at the Crandell Theatre, 48 Main Street, Chatham (free admission), then later that same day, 3pm at the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren Street, Hudson (children free, adults $5).

Two Screenwriting Panels, hosted by actor Scott Cohen (Kissing Jessica Stein, The Other Woman, Necessary Roughness and NBC’s Allegiance), joined by notable NYC and local actors including Mary Stuart Masterson and Jeremy Davidson in Hudson and Lauren Ambrose in Chatham, give audience members a rare opportunity to submit 6 copies of a scene (5-10 pages) from an original script. The actor panel will read through scenes and discuss on Sunday, October 25, 10:00am at the Tracy Memorial, 77 Main Street, Chatham and later the same day, at 2:00pm at the Hudson Opera House.  Tickets $15.

Tickets to most films and events are available at

As for celebrations, Friday night October 23, filmmakers and FilmColumbia crew mingle post-screening at the Chatham Brewery, across Main Street from the Crandell Theatre, starting at 10:00pm. Free, cash bar.

In Hudson, Saturday night October 24 between evening screenings at Hudson Lodge, 601 Union Street in Hudson, McDaris Fine Art, a block from the theatre at 623 Warren Street on the corner of 7th Street, hosts “The Intermission Party” from 5:30 to 7:00pm. Festival-goers are invited for a glass of wine, hors d’oeuvres and a viewing of new work by contemporary visual and video artists including Maggie Mailer. Free.

The same evening, after the headliner at Hudson Lodge, Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog,” the party walks to 746 Warren Street for the after-party at Crimson Sparrow, with chef John McCarthy’s special cocktail “The Woofgang,” created just for this event, and signature hors d’oeuvres. Free admission; cash bar.

Saturday night in Chatham brings the Saturday Night Sneak Peek at the Crandell Theatre. Although the film is already sold out, the celebration of this year’s mystery film continues at the Post-Sneak Party, where filmmakers and film lovers meet for drinks, appetizers and spirited conversation at the Blue Plate Restaurant (1 Kinderhook St, Chatham), Saturday, October 24 at 10:30 pm. Cash bar; admission $15 per person at the door or in advance at

Many festival screenings also include intros and discussions with filmmakers:
•   “Food for Thought, Food for Life” (Saturday, October 24, 11:00am, Hudson Lodge, 601 Union Street) October 16 is International Food Day, and FilmColumbia will screen this new short film by Susan Rockefeller, partially filmed in Columbia County, about the downside of current agribusiness and farmers, chefs, researchers, educators and advocates who have solutions. Followed by a live panel discussion.

•   “Jack of the Red Hearts” (Saturday, October 24, 12:30pm, Hudson Lodge) A tough teenage runaway, impersonating a trained caregiver, bonds with an 11 year-old autistic girl and her desperate mother until the cops descend. Director Janet Grillo and actors Scott Cohen and Famke Janssen will accompany the film.

•   Jane Aaron Retrospective (Saturday, October 24, 3:00pm, Hudson Lodge). Animator, illustrator and Guggenheim winner Jane Aaron made shorts, some shot in Columbia County, that became mainstays of Sesame Street as well as MTV and museums around the world. Well-known architectural photographer and longtime Hudson resident Peter Aaron, Jane’s brother, as well as her husband, filmmaker Skip Blumberg, will present this sampling of Jane’s work, accompanied by Oscar-winning animator and local resident Frank Mouris, who will discuss Aaron’s contribution to animation.

•   “Here Come the Videofreex” (Saturday, October 24, 4:30pm, Hudson Lodge, and Sunday, October 25, 8:45pm, Crandell Theatre, Chatham). In the late 1960’s, when video recording was a brand new technology, a group of hippies and radicals with Sony Portapaks courtesy of a free-thinking CBS executive shot the legendary Woodstock Music Festival, then proceeded to chronicle the counterculture over the next decade.  Among the Videofreex was Parry Teasdale, now editor of the Columbia Paper, and filmmaker Skip Blumberg.  Both will accompany the film at its Hudson screening, Teasdale at the Chatham screening.

•   “Bob and the Trees” (Thursday, October 22, 6:30pm, Crandell Theatre, Chatham and Sunday, October 25, 2pm, Hudson Lodge). Shot in the Berkshires by a French director during the polar vortex of 2014, focuses on a 50-something farmer struggling to make ends meet. Won first prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.  Filmmaker Diego Ongaro will introduce and answer questions after the film.

•   “Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists” (Wednesday, October 21, 2:30pm, Crandell Theatre, Chatham). A thoroughly entertaining look at the cartoonists who made the New Yorker a legend, including one who was rejected for twenty-five years before a cartoon was accepted. Executive Producer Deborah Shaffer will accompany the film.

•   Animation for Grownups (Saturday, October 24, 12:30pm, Morris Memorial, 17 Park Row, Chatham). For the eleventh year, animator Gary Leib (“American Splendor”) hosts an international array of cutting-edge animation. Featured animators will answer discuss their work after the screening.

•   “Breaking a Monster” (Saturday, October 24, 7:30pm, Morris Memorial, Chatham). The three members of the metal band Unlocking the Truth are in seventh grade. In 2013, footage of these three kids from Brooklyn playing professional-caliber rock in Times Square went viral, and eighteen months later they became the youngest band to sign with Sony. Filmmakers will accompany the film.

•   “Beyond Glory” (Sunday, October 25, 12:00pm, Crandell Theatre, Chatham). Tony Award-winning actor Stephen Lang in a one-man performance that brings to life the courage of eight Medal of Honor winners from three dramatically different wars. Stephen Lang will accompany the film.

•   “Heart of a Dog” (Sunday, October 25, 7:00pm, Crandell Theatre, Chatham; also playing Saturday, October 24, 8:30pm at Hudson Lodge). Laurie Anderson’s first film in thirty years, this melange of interlocked meditations on childhood, 9/11, the surveillance state, Anderson’s late husband, rocker Lou Reed, and storytelling itself–not to mention the filmmaker’s beloved rat terrier Lolabelle–will be accompanied at the Chatham performance by Elisabeth Weiss, noted dog trainer and animal behaviorist who taught Lolabelle to play the keyboard.

FilmColumbia is a weeklong festival dedicated to showing world-class independent and international films right on Main Street.  Hosted by Chatham Film Club, the festival consistently offers its audiences early looks at films that go on to win critical approval and awards, such as last year’s “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game,” “Foxcatcher” and “Wild.” Programmed by Executive Director Peter Biskind, author and film historian, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and past executive editor of Premiere Magazine; Laurence Kardish, senior curator emeritus for film and media at MoMA; and festival Director Calliope Nicholas—all local residents—FilmColumbia gives film patrons in the Hudson Valley the inside track on front-runners months before they are released to general audiences. Films are shown at the historic Crandell Theatre, a jewel of a 1920s single-screener owned and operated by the Chatham Film Club. Additional venues include the Morris Venue in Chatham, Hudson Lodge and Hudson Opera House in Hudson, all centrally located and easily accessible.

Interviews and high-resolution images are available. To schedule an interview with FilmColumbia Executive Director Peter Biskind, FilmColumbia Festival Director Calliope Nicholas, or co-programmer Larry Kardish contact Robyn Coe at email hidden; JavaScript is required or (818) 287-1237.