Woody Harrelson in The Messenger.
WOODSTOCK, NY) August 17, 2009: Hailed for its riveting performances by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton and Steve Buscemi, the East Coast Premiere of Oren Moverman's The Messenger will kick off the 10th Anniversary Woodstock Film Festival, Thursday night, October 1, at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock, followed by a Q&A and reception with the director and select cast.
Woody Harrelson was WFF's 2003 honorary Maverick Award Recipient. Steve Buscemi received the honorary Maverick Award in 2005 and director Oren Moverman co-wrote the Bob Dylan bio-pic I'm Not There, which closed the 2007 Woodstock Film Festival.
Reviewed as "a moving and elegant film that is an elegy of our time," the film embodies Woodstock's independent, political spirit, and dedication to excellence in filmmaking, according to WFF Executive Director and co-founder Meira Blaustein.
In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Liberty Heights, Hostage, X-Men) stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Samantha Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband's death, Will's emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival. The Messenger brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity.
"The Messenger is a brilliant film, destined to be a classic, in which the darkest side of war is depicted without a single shot being fired" said Blaustein. "Grappling with all the pains and ethical dilemmas that war brings to the human spirit, this film is the perfect opener for the Woodstock Film Festival. We are thrilled to have it and are looking forward to share its perfectly nuanced and delicate composition with our audience."
The film marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Moverman, who will be attending the WFF screening: "The Messenger ultimately deals with the desire to live, to let life into the darkness, even to laugh," said Moverman. "It definitely makes the point that there are people who have to deal with war in a way that is not strategic or political, but personal."
The Messenger had its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay and the Peace Film Award at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. Oscilloscope Laboratories will be releasing the film in theatres on November 6th, 2009.
The fiercely independent 10th Anniversary Woodstock Film Festival begins Wednesday Sept. 30th through Sunday Oct. 4th. The full schedule of events will be announced in Mid-September.
For more information, visit www.WoodstockFilmFestival.com, or contact the WFF Woodstock office at (845) 679-4265.
ABOUT THE WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL:
The "fiercely independent" Woodstock Film Festival premiers exceptional films; hosting the most talented emerging and established professionals in the movie industry; presenting A-list concerts, parties and panels, and creating stimulating, innovative programming year-round.
This year's landmark 10th Anniversary WFF, Sept. 30-Oct 4, includes more than 150 films, panels, concerts and special events in Woodstock and the neighboring towns of Kingston, Rhinebeck and Rosendale in New York's exquisite Hudson Valley Catskills, just two hours from NYC.
The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501c(3) organization whose mission is to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music and art-related activities that promotes artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity. For more information please call (845) 679-4265 or visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com