Preview of Williamstown Film Festival's Eleventh Season

October 23 - November 1 Screenings, Panels, Special Events

By: - Sep 23, 2009

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From October 23-November 1, the Williamstown Film Festival will present 40 titles including the latest work by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson, documentaries about actor John Cazale and The Boys in the Band, and New England, Massachusetts, and Berkshire premieres featuring Mary Tyler Moore, Joseph Fiennes, Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Al Pacino, Jamey Sheridan, Edward Albee, Spike Lee, Campbell Scott, Steve Buscemi, and Anne Hathaway.

Under New Leadership

The Williamstown Film Festival, now in its eleventh year, has also made major changes in its leadership. Joe Finnegan has assumed the task of President of the WFF Board. Bob Ware, who has been President of the Board since the Festival's inception in 1998, stepped down at WFF's annual meeting on June 28. Finnegan, has been on the Board for the past two years. Lee Harrison, who has served as Treasurer since WFF began, handed that post over to longtime Board member Brian Cabral. Both Ware and Harrison will continue on the Board. Vice-Presidents Bob Berzok and David Nickoll and Secretary/Clerk Merry Ann Simon were elected to new terms.

"I'm really excited about the challenges ahead," says Finnegan. "I look forward to working with Steve Lawson and our fantastic Board of Directors as WFF heads into its second decade."

Finnegan is a delightful example of new energy that has been coming into the northern Berkshire Region, especially since Mass MoCA opened in North Adams. Finnegan and his family moved to Williamstown in 2005, after he had worked in a number of capacities on Wall Street. A frequent guest commentator for CNBC, he spent several years as a New York Stock Exchange floor official, and an active mentor for NYSE education programs. In addition to WFF, Finnegan serves on the boards of Pine Cobble School, Images Cinema, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Williamstown Lacrosse Association. As those who have attended area cultural benefit events know, he is also an accomplished auctioneer.

The Eleventh Season

WFF kicks off at Images Cinema in Williamstown at 8:00pm on Friday, October 23rd with Handsome Harry, the searing story of a man forced to delve into his past and break a longtime code of silence. Director Bette Gordon will attend and take questions after the screening. For mature audiences.  The complete schedule is as follows:

Fri. 10/23 at 8:00pm

HANDSOME HARRY. When an old navy buddy seeking forgiveness entrusts Harry Sweeney with a request, the past suddenly catches up. Bette Gordon's topnotch cast (Jamey Sheridan, Campbell Scott, Steve Buscemi, John Savage, Aidan Quinn) powers Harry's confrontation with long-buried memories. The searing story of redemption and a longtime code of silence being shattered. A Berkshire Premiere. Short: LITTLE CANYON

Opening Night Party
 at Mezze
Sat. 10/24 at 10:00am

Breakfast Seminar: Life into Art
12 noon

BEYOND GREENAWAY: THE LEGACY. Is there an American aristocracy? A daughter of privilege recalls her youth growing up on Greenaway, an island off the Connecticut shore. The filmmaker's five brothers and sisters come under her microscope, but the most attention is devoted to their parents –controlling father, flamboyant mother – and a gradually vanishing way of life. A Massachusetts Premiere. Shorts: CUTLASS, THE MONDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING

ALL-SHORTS Slot I. One of WFF's most popular events, back for the eighth time! A collage of new shorts from some of today's cutting-edge directors.


The Benefit: Dinner with the writer/director and producers of Against the Current plus reserved seat at the film. Special prices apply.


AGAINST THE CURRENT: Joint event with MASS MoCA. Since its WFF/WTF reading five years ago, Peter Callahan's screenplay has been made into a remarkable film. Seeking emotional closure, a young man decides to swim the length of the Hudson River. A superb cast –Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser, Mary Tyler Moore – creates a bittersweet saga of human folly and the many tests of friendship. Short: BLUE BOY

Sun. 10/25 11:00am
(Bagels and coffee served at 10:30)

DARE. Youthful feelings go for a roller-coaster ride in Adam Salky's feature directing debut. Three different kids – overachieving good girl Alexa, outsider Ben, handsome bad boy Johnny – fall into each others' lives and turn their last high school semester into a three-way experiment on many levels. Dare is a teen romance with a contemporary spin all its own. Berkshire Premiere. Shorts: LOVE DOES GROW ON TREES, THE EIGHT PERCENT

Thurs. 10/29 at 8:00pm

I KNEW IT WAS YOU. John Cazale appeared in only five films in his sadly brief career. But all five were nominated for Best Picture: The Godfather,The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon,The Conversation, The Deer Hunter. New footage and interviews with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Al Pacino, et al make this documentary on one of America's most underrated actors a moving experience. Shorts: ACTING FOR THE CAMERA and MIRACLE FISH.

Party - Red Herring
Fri. 10/30 at 8:00pm

LA NAVE DE LOS MONSTRUOS. Joint event with MASS MoCA featuring Ethel – America's leading rock-infused string quartet. Meet the Mexican '50s sci-fi classic The Ship of Monsters. Two hot Venusian babes target Earth on a quest to find men for their planet. Ethel's electrifying new original score will be performed live. Previewing Halloween, a costume contest will precede the film. Short: LOVE AND ROADKILL.

Sat. 10/31 at 10:00am

ALL-SHORTS Slot II: A provocative spectrum of shorts – an entirely different program from Weekend I. Artists from the films will be on hand to discuss their work.


Lunch Seminar: 
To be Announced

MAKING THE BOYS. When it opened off-Broadway in 1968, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band jolted audiences and revolutionized the stage's treatment of homosexuality. Months later, the Stonewall riots signaled a landmark sea change in gay attitudes toward repression. How much have things changed since? A fascinating study of art and morality in modern America.A Work in Progress. Short: LOVE YOU MORE

POLIWOOD. A documentary by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Diner, Rain Man,Wag the Dog, Bugsy) about the collision and collusion between politics and Hollywood. Grab a frontrow seat to the 2008 presidential campaign . . . and the ever-thinning line between actors and politicians, news and entertainment. A sizzling look at the roles media and celebrities play in society. New England Premiere, followed by the annual champagne/desserts party at the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute.
Sun. 11/1 at 11:00am
(Bagels and coffee served at 10:30)

HUMPDAY. The male ego comes in for a shellacking in Lynn Shelton's bubbling Sundance award-winner. When best friends (and straight guys) Ben and Andrew reunite, they find themselves dared into entering an amateur porn contest. The plan: to create a "work of art"by having sex together. But will they go through with the scheme – and who's going to tell Ben's wife? A buddy movie gone hilariously haywire. Short: the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award winner TBA.

Some Background

Here are some more of the details. Saturday, October 24th begins at the Williams Inn with a 10:00am breakfast seminar, "Life into Art." Writers David Brind (Dare), Peter Callahan (Against the Current), and Sue Gilbert (Beyond Greenaway) will discuss the various life experiences which served as inspiration for their screenplays.

This will be followed by a 12noon screening of Beyond Greenaway: The Legacy, in which a daughter of privilege recalls her childhood spent on an Connecticut island with her siblings and colorful parents. The first of the always-popular All-Shorts slots takes place at Images at 2:45pm.

The annual Benefit dinner (including reserved seating at the evening's film) will be held at 777 Cold Spring Road, after which WFF and MASS MoCA will jointly present Against the Current starring Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk, Elizabeth Reaser, and Mary Tyler Moore. Seeking emotional closure, a young man decides to swim the length of the Hudson River accompanied by two friends in a boat. The screenplay was originally read at WFF five years ago, and the showing at MoCA's Hunter Center marks the New England premiere.

Weekend I concludes at Images on Sunday, October 25th with an 11:00am screening of Dare, in which very different high school seniors turn their last semester into a three-way experiment. For mature audiences. Bagels, coffee, and OJ will be served at 10:30am.

Weekend II kicks off on Thursday, October 29th at 8:00pm with I Knew It Was You, a profile of one of this country's most underrated actors, John Cazale. In his brief career, he made just five movies - but each one was nominated for Best Picture.

WFF returns to MASS MoCA on Friday night, October 30th with La Nave de Los Monstruos (The Ship of Monsters), a Mexican sci-fi musical in which Venusian women land on Earth in search of men. Ethel, America's leading rock-infused string quartet, accompanies the film with a live original score. In honor of Halloween, a costume contest will precede the film.

Saturday the 31st begins with the second All-Shorts slot at Images at 10:00am.

At The Orchards at 12:45pm, a Lunch Seminar (focus TBA) will take place. This will be followed at 2:45pm with Making the Boys, a look at how attitudes toward homosexuality in America have changed (or not) since Mart Crowley's groundbreaking play "The Boys in the Band" and the Stonewall riots 40 years ago. For mature audiences.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is the site of the New England premiere of Poliwood, Barry Levinson's new documentary about the collision and collusion between politics and Hollywood through the prism of the 2008 presidential conventions. After the 8:00pm film, there will be a Q-&-A with the producers, the presentation of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Award to the top short of the Festival determined by audience vote, and WFF's annual "death-by-chocolate" party in the museum courtyard. 

The season wraps up on Sunday, November 1st with the 11:00am screening at Images of Humpday, Lynn Shelton's hilarious Sundance prize-winner. In this buddy movie gone haywire, old friends and straight guys Ben and Andrew impulsively enter an amateur porn contest with the intention of having sex on camera as "art." But will they go through with it, and who'll tell Ben's wife? For mature audiences.

"It's our most diverse lineup yet," says WFF executive director Steve Lawson. "Drama, comedy, animation, documentaries, and world-class acting and direction. In addition to the features and seminars, the 30 shorts on tap this season cover an amazing range of material. And - as always - everything screens just once to
maximize personal contact between artists and audiences." 

To order tickets (or discount Passes at 10% off), visit or call the Ticket Line at (413) 458-9900.