15th ANNUAL BERKSHIRE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2021 FESTIVAL LINEUP
2021 BIFF Honoree is Multi Award-Winning, Legendary Actor ALFRE WOODARD
BIFF Opens with Documentary Film about Beloved Berkshire Icon Leonard Bernstein;
BIFF Closes with New England Premiere of TOM PETTY, SOMEWHERE YOU FEEL FREE;
Five World Premieres including a film about legendary glass artist Lino Tagliapietra, the story of THE BOOKSTORE in Lenox and a Film about Shake & Co’s Famed Fall Festival;
A New Collaboration with NYC’s Naked Angels Theater Company;
Tea Talks with Two World Premieres Featuring Don Gummer and Gerry Moffatt; and a Fascinating Panel Discussion with Industry Icons Fred Seibert and Evan Shapiro;
Plus, Dozens of International and National Narrative Features and Documentaries,
Short Films and BIFF Continues its Partnership with the
Palm Springs International Animated Film Festival;
The 15th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) announces another blockbuster weekend line-up of films, events, and very special guests. The festival runs from September 9 – 12 in Great Barrington and September 10 – 12 in Pittsfield. Marked with strong international programming and an ongoing commitment to presenting the best in documentary film, the festival brings together films, filmmakers, industry professionals and fans for a four-day celebration. The lineup features 22 documentaries, 20 narrative features and 18 short films, which represent 20 countries including Germany, India, France, Austria, Poland, Australia, Israel, Kosovo, UK, China, Denmark, Canada, Chile, Greece, Hungary, Argentina, Switzerland, Italy and Norway. This year’s festival promises to not only transport film fans to foreign lands, but also deliver important, engaging, powerful and entertaining stories from around the United States and here in the Berkshire community.
“I am deeply grateful and humbled that we will be honoring the incredible actor, Alfre Woodard this year,” said Kelley Vickery, BIFF Founder and Artistic Director of this year’s honoree. One of the most versatile actors of her generation and named by the New York Times as one of ‘the 25 greatest actors of the 21st Century,’ Alfre Woodard has won or been nominated for nearly every award that the entertainment industry has to bestow, including a record 17 Emmy nominations. We are thrilled she will join us on the Mahaiwe stage.”
“We are also thrilled to share an extraordinary line-up of films from near and far,” said Vickery. “One of the many things I love about the BIFF is the diversity of films that our filmmakers bring to the Berkshires. Each year we present films from around the world to reflect our ever-changing, ever-growing, and ever-hopeful global community. It is my hope that BIFF will inspire our Berkshire audience with wonder, curiosity, engagement, laughter and perhaps even a call to action. I continue to be amazed at the amount of inspired filmmaking that is being created, and I celebrate those filmmakers who share their stories and their talent. BIFF continues to bring the world to the Berkshires!”
Earlier this year BIFF announced industry veteran David Tochterman as their new Executive Director. Tochterman is a well known producer, executive and entrepreneur, and CEO of Canvas Media Studios which produces and distributes original programming for film, television and digital platforms.
Tochterman commented: “I believe the pandemic accelerated the tipping point between traditional and virtual. When I joined BIFF, I found that almost every film festival was online in some way, which reflects the changing world of content distribution. This year’s festival will be a little more industry-driven, and we’ve created a new online pass for BIFF audiences to experience the festival virtually for the first time. I was very impressed with how Kelley creates a theme every year to connect BIFF’s programming with what’s going on in the world. Art should reflect life, and that’s a great message for a film festival.”
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 —Opening Night, Great Barrington, sponsored by Berkshire Bank: The festival opens with BERNSTEIN’S WALL which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim. “Lenny loomed large in the Berkshires for decades, so it seems fitting to open with a film about someone many of us knew and remember so fondly at Tanglewood,” said Vickery. Director Douglas Tirola uses Leonard Bernstein’s own voice to trace Bernstein’s lifelong struggle to create social change and bring people together through his work. Like a symphony with multiple movements, the film presents the sweeping grandeur of Bernstein’s life while sharing his most private thoughts about America, politics, race, family, media, sex, and religion. Using Bernstein’s own words, while featuring newly discovered archival footage, audio verité moments with his family, intimate photos, personal letters, and highlights of his spectacular career—including WEST SIDE STORY, the New York Philharmonic, Young People’s Concerts and the opening of the Kennedy Center. Tirola creates an intimate and moving look at one of the 20th century’s most prominent icons as well as a call to action for artists to create change and bring people together in our society today.
The director Douglas Tirola and Nina and Alexander Bernstein will be in attendance for a Q&A following the film.
The opening night begins with a presentation of the ELEVENTH annual “Next Great Filmmaker Award” sponsored by Berkshire Bank—cast your vote before September 5th at www.biffma.org and be part of the excitement!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11—Tribute Night, sponsored by GWFF USA: It is a pleasure, and a huge honor, to pay tribute to the Multi Award-winning and legendary actor, Alfre Woodard. A veteran of film, theater, television, and spoken word, Woodard powerfully illuminates each role she inhabits. Her work as an actor is not simply to entertain, but to inform; to make us walk a mile in another’s shoes, ; to let us feel the long and unknown road where, at the end of our trip, compassion exists. In addition to her outstanding career in front of audiences, Alfre Woodard is a tireless social activist. With her passion, with her courage, with the nuance and force she brings to each role and each facet of her activist life, Alfre Woodard is, in fact, making a better America. The Berkshire International Film Festival is proud to honor her.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12—Closing Night: BIFF will close with the highly acclaimed documentary, TOM PETTY, SOMEWHERE YOU FEEL FREE. The film offers a unique take on the Petty legacy, diving deep into a condensed period of creativity and freedom for the legendary rock star. Capturing the period of 1993-1995, during which he created his seminal and most emotionally raw album Wildflowers, the unvarnished look at Petty features never-before-seen footage drawn from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film as well as new interviews with album co-producers Rick Rubin and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, along with original Heartbreaker Benmont Tench. Director Mary Wharton and Executive Producer Dan Braun will be in attendance for a Q&A.
In addition to the dozens of remarkable films, BIFF will host special events throughout the weekend including GWFF USA’s Juried Prize Award for narrative and documentary filmmaking, free family film screenings, and panel discussions. BIFF’s popular “Tea Talks” also return. This festival-favorite began three years ago, and this year’s selections include in-depth conversations with special guests about the film industry and with some of our program’s featured films. We are also collaborating with the renowned theater company in NYC, Naked Angels, for a screenplay reading of NEXT FALL by Geoffrey Nauffts, starring Patricia Clarkson and William Fichtner, produced by Tim Ransom.
The BIFF’s 2021 Jury includes actor Karen Allen; distribution guru Josh Braun; director Kent Jones; producer Darren Dean; distributor and filmmaker Greg Rhem; and casting director Gretchen Rennell. In competition are four documentaries and four films in the narrative category. The award includes a $5,000 prize sponsored by GWFF USA to be presented during a brunch on Sunday, September 12 at Number Ten in Great Barrington. The films in the narrative competition are AFTER LOVE, HIVE, NADIA BUTTERFLY, and THE TAILOR. In the documentary competition are CHASING CHILDHOOD, FISH AND MEN, STORM LAKE, and TO WHICH WE BELONG.
The ELEVENTH annual “Next Great Filmmaker” Competition created and sponsored by Berkshire Bank will kick-off online on Friday, August 6. Voting will continue through to September 6 and the winner announced at the opening night presentation in Great Barrington, Thursday, September 9 at the Mahaiwe. The films in competition are: FEELING THROUGH, HAPPY, READY TO WEAR, STAGIAIRE, and WHAT HAPPENED TO US? www.biffma.org/nextgreat
BIFF FILMMAKER SUMMIT
In 2021, the BIFF will host its eleventh annual Filmmaker Summit—a two-day talent academy for this year’s filmmakers. This diverse, multi-dimensional program of panel discussions, lectures, special events, and breakout sessions is led by known industry professionals including the Berkshires’ own special effects legend, Doug Trumbull. Beginning on Wednesday, September 8th, the Filmmaker Summit is a very special introduction to the festival for filmmakers.
Premiere sponsors of the festival include the Triplex Cinema, Phoenix Theatres Beacon Cinema, GWFF, Studio Two, Berkshire Bank, Max Ultimate Food, The Annie Selke Companies, The Red Lion Inn, and Town Vibe. Supporting sponsors include Karen Allen Fiber Arts, Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Canna Provisions, DéPart Wines, Stella Artois, Abbotts Livery, Haven Cafe, Stonover Farm, Schantz Galleries, Chronogram and Fairfield Inn and Suites.
JOIN US IN SEPTEMBER FOR THE BIFF!
BIFF will be back with more than 60 short films, narrative and documentary features, Tea Talks, screenplay readings and of course, our Tribute Night! Passes are sold out, but individual tickets and our new curated virtual pass offering will go on sale on August 5 for REEL Friends and August 9 for Not-Yet-REEL Friends. Visit our website for more details about the festival. www.biffma.org
Important Dates for the 2021 Festival:
Announcement of the Festival Films and Events: Thursday, August 5
Limited Tickets and Virtual Passes on Sale for REEL Friends: Thursday – Sunday, August 5 – 8.
Limited Tickets and Virtual Passes on Sale to General Public: Monday, August 9
15th Anniversary Celebration at CAMP BIFF: Saturday, September 4. Private location, Stockbridge
Dates for the BIFF: September 9 – 12, 2021, Great Barrington and Pittsfield
The Berkshire International Film Festival is back, screening the best in documentary, narrative and short films from around the globe. We will also be hosting the popular Tea Talks, a screenplay reading this year and a very special Tribute Night. Join us!
Browse the program: