(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – The thirteenth annual Williamstown Film Festival kicks off on Friday, October 21, 2011, and continues over two weekends with an exciting roster of narrative features, feature-length documentaries, special events, and two provocative programs of short films. The festival continues to innovate while staying true to its tradition of presenting a single-track program of new film in an intimate environment, featuring the personal involvement of artists integral to the making of each film. Screenings and other events take place at Images Cinema, Hops & Vines, and The Clark in Williamstown, and at MASS MoCA and Gramercy Bistro in North Adams.
The festival opens on Friday, October 21, with The Lie, a rueful comedy directed by Joshua Leonard, who also stars in the film; he and his co-star, Jess Weixler, will be in attendance for the post-screening Q&A. It culminates on Saturday, October 29, with a tribute to the legendary director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict), who died earlier this year. Lumet’s daughter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, and Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Tom Fontana will screen clips from Lumet’s films; producer Lilith Jacobs, writer David Black, and other guest artists will join them to share stories and take questions about Lumet’s luminous half-century career. Following the announcement of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award for top short of the season, the festival concludes with the annual champagne and dessert party at The Clark.
Other highlights include the New England premiere of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a stunning psychological thriller featuring powerful performances by Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and Ezra Miller; the East Coast premiere of The Running Fence Revisited, which takes the artist Christo and his late wife, Jeanne Claude, back to Sonoma and Marin counties, where they created a 24-mile fabric fence in 1976; the New England premiere of Carol Channing: Larger than Life, plus a post-screening Q&A with director Dori Berinstein and dance icon Marge Champion – star of stage and screen – who is interviewed in the documentary; and the New England premiere of The Restaurateur, with the documentary’s subject, NYC’s legendary restaurant entrepreneur Danny Meyer (Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park) in attendance; he’ll participate in a post-screening Q&A and host a special tasting.
The festival includes several local elements, including a screening, in conjunction with MASS MoCA, of Never Stand Still, the new documentary about Jacob’s Pillow – the longest-running dance festival in America, and one of the world’s most prestigious dance centers. The Pillow’s executive and creative director Ella Baff will join director Ron Honsa and producer Nan Penman for the Q&A. The annual lunch seminar features visual effects innovator Jeff Kleiser, of Williamstown-based Synthespian Studios, who will provide an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at his groundbreaking special effects for Ra.One, Bollywood’s biggest sci-fi blockbuster, a project that took him to Mumbai, London, and South Africa.
Beloved greeting card designer and children’s book author Sandra Boynton, of Lakeville, Conn., is represented by two new short films: Be Like a Duck, which screens on opening night with The Lie; and Penguin Lament, part of the ever-popular Saturday afternoon All-Shorts slot on October 22, after which she’ll participate in the Q&A with other filmmakers in the program. In addition, the documentary Caris’ Peace, about an actor’s struggle to return to the stage after being stricken with short-term memory loss, features several Williamstown Theatre Festival favorites, including Lewis Black and Kate Burton.
For the first time, the festival includes a “Family Slot.” The enchanting French-made, English-language animated feature A Cat in Paris, screening on Saturday, October 22 at 10 a.m., will appeal to both kids and adults, who will recognize references to Hitchcock, film noir, and the Pink Panther. Also new this year is a second program of shorts, the late-night “Strange Behavior” slot, which screens on Friday, October 28 at 11:30 p.m. True to its title, films on this program include Die with Me, the first outing by Drew Murray (Williams ’11); Incest! The Musical by Grant Reed; and Better Days Ahead, directed by Matthew Reeve (son of Christopher Reeve), all of whom will be present, along with other filmmakers, for the post-screening Q&A.
Williamstown Film Festival is lauded for its insightful programming; the inclusion of a bevy of filmmakers and other guest artists in an intimate setting that fosters audience interaction; its exhilarating blend of established and emerging artists; and its unorthodox, linear schedule – with no overlapping screenings – which gives passholders a shared experience and leads to intense discussions among festivalgoers. Taking place at the height of foliage season, the festival provides a stimulating, high-caliber cultural experience in an idyllic New England environment. After attending WFF last year, Alec Baldwin called it “the best film festival in New England.
The Williamstown Film Festival runs from October 21-23 and October 27-29. Full-festival passes are available for $200; passes are also available for each weekend. Passes and single-event tickets can be purchased at Williamstown Film Festival or by calling 413.458.9900. For complete details on the Festival schedule, films, special events, and guest artists, please visit Williamstown Film Festival.