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Audience Award Winners Announced for Woodstock FF
Wednesday, October 18----The 7th Woodstock Film Festival, which wrapped this past Sunday, has announced its Audience Award winners for this year. Two virtual ties for the 2006 Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary saw the awards go to four films instead of two this year.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was shared by AFTER THE WEDDING, a Danish film that was the Festival's Centerpiece Film and FORGIVENESS, an Israeli film by Udi Aloni.
AFTER THE WEDDING is the latest film from director Susanne Bier, the respected helmer of such international arthouse hits as OPEN HEARTS and BROTHERS. It follows the fictional story of Jacob Petersen, who has dedicated his life to helping street children in India. When the orphanage he heads is threatened by closure, he receives an unusual offer. A Danish businessman offers him a donation of $4 million dollars, under the condition that he take part in the wedding of the businessman's daughter. The film, which has been chosen as Denmark's Official Entry for the 2007 Academy Awards, is to be distributed by IFC Films.
[img_assist|nid=1105|title=|desc=|link=node|align=block|width=170|height=94]AFTER THE WEDDING
FORGIVENESS, by Israeli director Udi Aloni, is the story of one man's attempt to come to terms with guilt and grief in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The story centers on a catatonic patient in a Israeli mental institution, who is consumed by guilt over the shooting of a young Palestinian girl when he was in the Israeli Army. The film follows the former soldier as he confronts his guilt after he returns to his normal life. Israeli actor Itay Tiran gives an emotionally devastating performance, for which he was nominated as Best Actor at the Israeli Film Academy Awards.
Two documentary films shared the Audience Award prize. SHUT UP AND SING by director Barbara Kopple (recipient of this year's Maverick Award) covers the recent career of the country/western group The Dixie Chicks, who went from national darlings to national pariahs when lead singer Natalie Maines made an infamous anti-Bush comment at a concert in London in 2003. The fallout from that controversy plus the group's desire to break free of the artistic restrictions of the traditional country/western format, makes for compelling viewing. The film will be released theatrically later this month by the Weinstein Company, and seems a leading contender for Best Documentary Oscar honors next year.
[img_assist|nid=1071|title=|desc=|link=node|align=block|width=140|height=115]The Dixie Chicks In Concert
The second winner was the social issue film BEYOND CONVICTION, by director Rachel Libert. This hard-hitting expose examines three cases in a Pennsylvania mediation program that brings the victims of violent crimes together with their perpetrators. The pain of each victim (a woman who was raped, the mother of a murdered son and the daughter of a murdered mother) is matched by the guilt and remorse of the perpetrators. The film is a bracing and ultimately rewarding look at the nature of human forgiveness. results of each mediation will surprise the viewer in this moving film, which provides amazing insight into the ability of people to endure and into the nature of human forgiveness. The film had its premiere last June at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.
This year's Woodstock Film Festival was notable for the high quality of films in the program, a record audience attendance and an intensive series of professional panels that brought industry mavens to the Catskill Mountains retreat for a stimulating week of film appreciation.
The Bulletin Board
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