Return to Woodstock: Upstate Film Festival is Finally Back

A short documentary directed by Erica Cohn titled "What You'll Remember" made it's big screen debut at Woodstock.

 The Woodstock Film Festival is a non-profit organization that seeks to embrace and support upcoming and established filmmakers. The organization hosts an annual film festival as well as year-round programs to support community, culture, diversity, economic growth and educational opportunities. The mentoring of education programs the Woodstock Film Festival benefits student and professional filmmakers alike and is praised for its consistent efforts to nurture said filmmakers – making it one of the top regional film festivals worldwide.

Film categories that submissions were accepted for included: Feature Narrative (over 40 minutes), Feature Documentary (over 40 minutes), Short Narrative (under 40 minutes), Short Documentary (under 40 minutes), Short Student Film (college level, under 40 minutes), Short Animation (under 15 minutes), Music Video (under 10 minutes) and Youth/ Teen (ages 12-18 only and under 15 minutes). 

This year’s festival was both in-person and online and was held from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3. Face masks and proof of vaccination were required for all in-person attendees. Tickets for in person and virtual events went on sale on Sept 1. online and Sept 2. in the box office. 

A short documentary directed by Erica Cohn titled  “What You’ll Remember” made it’s big screen debut during the Woodstock Film Festival on Friday Oct. 1. The documentary is portrayed as a love letter from two young parents, Elizabeth Herrera and David Lima, to their children where they discuss the struggles of finding a house to live in and the bonds they have as a family after facing uncertainty.

“What You’ll Remember” shows clips filmed by Mrs. Herrera of the children throughout their childhood – both before and after they found somewhere to live. Both Lima and Herrera spoke on the reality of their situation and on the way they wanted their children to remember their childhood.

One example of the reframing of information was the difference between being homeless and “car camping.” To the parents, they were a family without a stable house who were struggling to feed their children. But the parent’s attitudes made the children feel as though everything was an adventure and they had everything they could ever want or need within their family.

“Never forget that home is not a building. Home is where your family and the people you love are,” Mrs. Herrera said.

“I hope it catalyzes audience reflection on the stories we’ve all been told…how life was framed, the splendor of imagination, the loss of childhood innocence, the meaning of home and the stories we tell ourselves now,” Cohn said. Cohn is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and was recognized as Variety’s top 10 Documentary Filmmakers in 2017. “In the midst of a pandemic, ‘What You’ll Remember’ plays as an offering – a tribute to resilience and creativity in a time when so much is out of our control.”

While the festival declares themselves as anything but competitive, they do have awards in several categories including: Best Narrative Feature, Best Short Narrative, Best Student Short, Ultra Indie Award, Carpe Diem Andretta Award, Haskell Wexler Award, World Cinema Award, Best Animated Short, James Lyons Editing Award for Narrative & Doc Features and Audience Award for Narrative and Documentary Features.

Although “What You’ll Remember” did not win any awards, it remains as a testament to the love the Herrera family shares.

Best Short Documentary was awarded to “The Box,” directed by Shal Ngo and James Burns. The honorable mention was given to “Hunger Ward,” directed by Skye Fitzgerald.

“Mass” directed by Fran Kranz won Best Narrative Film.

“Once we step into the room of this film, the story turns around our preconceptions and keeps us leaning into its drama,” award jurors wrote. “The sublime and at times explosive performances rivet us to the emotional war raging within the characters. As the film peels away layers of their guilt, blame, and pain, it reveals the real antagonists of the story — society and the culture that we live in today.”

“Storm Lake” directed by Jerry Risius and Beth Levison won Best Documentary Feature. “Local news is where the community lives and breathes. In a world where we see our voices and honesty being chipped away, the journalists from Storm Lake, Iowa illuminate in all their genuine glory what we all have to lose,” jurors said.

The date for the next festival has not been announced, but categories will remain the same. Anyone capable of making a quality piece is invited to apply to the festival or any of the programs run by the Woodstock Film Festival. More information on upcoming events can be found on their website.

About Kyra Russo 15 Articles
Kyra Russo is a second-year journalism major from East Greenbush, NY. This is her second semester as a copy-editor on The Oracle. Besides the newspaper, she is on the women's soccer team at SUNY New Paltz and participates in the Rising Hawks Leadership program.