“By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong. And everywhere was a song and a celebration.”
By the time I got to the Woodstock Film Festival Sept. 30 it was well underway. Though there wasn’t a song and a celebration everywhere, it was a very warm, congenial, even familial environment.
For many people my generation and older Woodstock is a mythical place. If you have yet to see Ang Lee’s recent film Taking Woodstock I highly recommend it. It’s a lovely portrait of a time of undiminished possibility.
Long before the famed 1969 music festival however, Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman bought property there and began an exodus of NYC music talent to those rolling hills and small, rural towns. Artists of all types soon followed the musicians, along with Buddhists, organic farmers, and those interested in intentional communities, ultimately followed of course by Yuppies, realtors, and bankers.
Though parts of the town today resemble a 1960s theme park, there is still plenty of the area’s rural charm to recommend it.
Both screenings of our film at the Woodstock Film Festival were sold out. One audience seemed almost in shock afterward. People had rather stunned expressions and for a while no one spoke. One woman from a local Tibetan center decided not to get up and pitch an upcoming event because she was so blown away she didn’t want to speak.
No question – the film is a powerful emotional experience. I tend to think that the rather long end credits are a plus, helping the audience transition out of the film experience back to the present moment. I also have learned to start my Q&As with some care. If I’m too chipper or flip it can be off-putting, abrasive, even disrespectful. Even though it’s been a while since I watched the film with an audience, I always remind myself to reground as much as possible in the suspense and powerful emotions of the film experience before beginning to speak.