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By Film Threat Staff | August 28, 2008

For the first time, the Woodstock Film Festival will present THREE Opening Films, including the U.S. Premiere of “Pride and Glory,” to kick-off its annual “fiercely independent” film extravaganza in the towns of Woodstock, Rhinebeck and Rosendale, all on Thursday evening, Oct. 2nd .The 9th Annual Festival runs from Oct. 1 through 5, featuring more than 150 outstanding films & shorts, thought-provoking panels, exciting concerts and other luminous events.

“You might say we hit the trifecta of quality films with the diverse slate of our three opening selections, and we are especially pleased to be able to offer the U.S. premiere of ‘Pride and Glory,” said Meira Blaustein, festival executive director and co-founder.“For the past several years we have been screening films in Rosendale as well as Woodstock and Rhinebeck, and we have developed a strong following there, so we are delighted to celebrate with a great opening film in Rosendale as well.”

The search for enduring love and the quest for justice and honor are the recurring themes of this year’s opening films, all of which comes with impeccable credentials!

In Woodstock, the U.S. premiere of “Pride and Glory,” a fast-paced, cop drama by award-winning director Gavin O’Connor and starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, examines a family’s moral codes in the face of police corruption in New York City. The family is tested when Ray Tierney (Norton), investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal involving his own brother-in-law (Farrell), a Pandora’s Box that threatens to upend not only the Tierney legacy but the entire NYPD. This tightly-crafted, exciting story explores honor and loyalty when a family’s honesty and safety are put in danger. Director O’Connor will be at the screening for a Q & A after the film.

O’Connor’s previous feature, “Tumbleweeds” won three independent film awards and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. His producing credits include the award winning “The Slaughter Rule.”

In Rhinebeck, the jubilant “Happy Go Lucky” follows the life of Polly, a freethinking, carefree schoolteacher as she searches for love and happiness. This infectiously joyous comedy is directed by Mike Leigh, a multiple Academy Award nominee in directing and writing for his films “Vera Drake” and “Secrets and Lies” and for his screenplay of “Topsy-Turvy.” “Happy Go Lucky” will send you away happy and transformed and was the winner of the Berlin Film Festival’s award for Best Actress, and an official selection of The Toronto Film Festival and The Telluride Film Festival.

In Rosendale, “Flash of Genius,” is based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), whose long battle with the U.S. automobile industry, comes at a heavy price. The Kearns were a typical 1960s Detroit family, trying to live their version of the American Dream. When Bob invents the intermittent windshield wiper – a device that would eventually be used by every car in the world – their aspirations are dashed after the auto giants unceremoniously shun the man who invented it. He becomes a man obsessed with justice and the conviction that his life’s work be acknowledged by those who stood to benefit. While paying the toll for refusing to compromise his dignity, this everyday David will try the unthinkable: to bring Goliath to his knees. Director Marc Abraham is a multi-talented filmmaker whose credits also include producing (“Children of Men,” “The Road to Wellville”), and writing (“The Earth Day Special,” “21 Jump Street”) as well as directing.

These three fabulous films are just the beginning of a festival famous for its entertaining and insightful programming. The five day gathering kicks off Wednesday night, Oct. 1, 8pm, with a highly anticipated concert at The Bearsville Theater featuring Abigail Washburn and The Sparrow Quartet featuring the incomparable Bela Fleck along with Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee. Films and events run through Sunday evening, Oct. 5, with the Gala WFF Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 4. The full schedule of events will be announced in Mid-September.

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