Black Maria Film Festival To Visit Rhinebeck, Features Local Filmmaker

Aug 1, 2019

A festival of short films returns to Upstate Films in Rhinebeck Friday. One of the films being screened is by a local filmmaker. It’s based on a one-woman show about a woman who cares for a brother with cerebral palsy.

Named after Thomas Edison’s film studio, dubbed the “Black Maria” because of its resemblance to the black-box police wagons of the same name, the Black Maria Film Festival features a collection of short films that go on tour. Jane Steuerwald is executive director of the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival, based in New Jersey. She describes the festival’s mission.

She says hundreds of films from around the world are submitted annually. Once the field is narrowed, a jury selects roughly 50 films that will form a library and tour for the year. Steuerwald curates a program for each venue.  She says there are still some venues that have continued programming Black Maria since the start of the festival more than 30 years ago.

Woody’s Order is one of the eight Black Maria films being screened at Upstate Films. It is based on a one-woman show written and performed by actress Ann Talman. Family legend has it that she was “ordered” into this world in 1956 by Woody, her then eight-year-old brother with severe cerebral palsy, to care for Woody if and when their parents could not. At the time, Woody was not expected to live past 12. Red Hook resident and filmmaker Seth Kramer, of Ironbound Films, talks about the genesis of "Woody's Order."

Kramer says he is proud of the film especially for how it invited him to communicate with Woody and now others with cerebral palsy who use a wheelchair and are non-verbal.

Woody, who has since died, was able to attend the film’s premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.  Black Maria Festival Director Jane Steuerwald will conduct a Q & A with the audience, along with filmmaker Seth Kramer and writer/performer Ann Talman. The show begins at 8:15 p.m. Friday, at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.