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Welcome to Upstate Films A non-profit, member-supported arts organization Get more details Presenting the best in world & independent cinema since 1972 Oscar Nominated Short Films (this time it's virtual!) The 2021 Oscar Nominated Short Films in Three Categories (Animation, Documentary and Live Action) Get more details Starts April 2nd in our Virtual Cinema

Upstate Films Announces New Leaders

Upstate Films Announces New Leaders

Following the retirement of founders Steve and DeDe Leiber, Upstate Films introduces its new leadership. Paul Sturtz and Jason Silverman have been named co-Executive Directors of the storied not-for-profit organization, which has been bringing provocative cinema to the Hudson Valley since 1972. The two were selected after Upstate Films’ board of directors conducted a national search process. Steve and DeDe Leiber will continue with the organization as treasured Directors Emeriti and consultants through Upstate’s 50th anniversary in spring 2022.

“We are thrilled to bring Paul and Jason onboard,” said Susan Goldman, chair of Upstate Films and a co-founder of the organization. “Their experience in the field of independent cinema is extraordinary. More importantly, their work in building community through the arts resonates deeply with Upstate Films’ history and mission. Though it may seem crazy, as theaters have been closed and the future so uncertain, the Board is very excited by the vision and possibilities our new Directors bring.”

Paul Sturtz is a co-founder, with David Wilson, of the Ragtag Film Society in Columbia, Missouri, a now-legendary arthouse theater that became the basis for the True/False Film Fest, a nonfiction festival that has received international acclaim. The Los Angeles Times called True/False “the most important documentary festival in America” and The New Yorker described it as “the epicenter of creative cinematic nonfiction.” The festival was also known for its deep community collaborations and for helping to revitalize downtown Columbia. Sturtz has also worked as a journalist, served as a city councilor in Columbia and was recognized for his work with an honorary doctorate from the University of Missouri. Full bio here.

Jason Silverman served as the artistic director of the Taos Talking Picture Festival, named one of the world’s top ten festivals, and as the Cinematheque Director at the Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe. He also is a former journalist, including 15 years of freelance work for Wired. His 2015 documentary film SEMBENE! premiered at Sundance and Cannes and was named one of the top ten films of 2015 by New York Magazine. He has served as a curator or producer for numerous arts organizations and has been a key member of the Telluride Film Festival staff since 1991. He has been recognized with the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts; and through the proclamation of “Jason Silverman Day” in 2019 by the City of Santa Fe. Full bio here.

Steve and Dede Leiber have led Upstate Films from infancy to this transition, 49 years later, and are excited about the organization’s next chapter.

“We’ve been working towards retirement and passing the torch for quite some time,” said Steve Leiber. “We feel confident that we have found new leaders who, with their deep background in cinema and community, are perfectly suited to sustain Upstate through the challenging pandemic and to guide Upstate into the future.”

“It’s a scary but exciting time for everyone in the film business,” said DeDe Leiber, Upstate Films co-founder. “We are grateful that Paul and Jason have decided to take on this challenge, and we are excited to work together to ensure that our organization—our baby—survives and thrives.”

Upstate Films currently operates theaters in Rhinebeck and Woodstock. As one of the original small-town arthouse theaters in the country, the organization has a national reputation for finding and presenting the best new and restored films, and in building memorable events, including the Hudson Valley Film Festival, focused on the role of the screenwriter; the American New Wave series; and, since 1972, by bringing filmmakers and artists in person to share their films. The organization also has at times distributed films that they loved—the Oscar-nominated THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, the beloved UNDER THE SUN, the Emmy-nominated FOLLOWING SEAN—out of a desire to make the films more readily available. The organization has been a leader in arts-based education, launching, with FDR High School in Hyde Park in 1987, a seminal program that uses films and filmmakers to teach history and English in A.P. classes. The program continues to this day.

That's all folks! Steve & Dede head off into retirement

That’s all folks! Steve & Dede head off into retirement

Steve and DeDe Leiber, who founded the legendary independent cinema Upstate Films in 1972, are stepping down as co-directors, effective January, 2021.
The two will assume the roles of directors emeriti. The transition process is well underway – Upstate Films board of directors has hired new leadership and will introduce and announce the new leaders in early 2021.
Steve and DeDe, with current board president Susan Goldman, started the nonprofit organization in 1972. The goal of this trio, all of whom were still in their early 20s, was to create a community-oriented moviespace in the Hudson Valley. They revived a rundown space, the Starr Theatre, built in 1927, in Rhinebeck, New York. A once-thriving district, Rhinebeck’s downtown had fallen upon difficult times. Upstate Films’ first program included live performances, a screening of a Buster Keaton short and a screening of the Marx Brothers’ DUCK SOUP.
In the 48 years since, the organization has presented more than 4,000 films from 100+ countries, hosting more than 1.5 million ticket buyers. Many classics of the genre, including hundreds of Oscar nominees, received their regional premiere at the theater. Scores of visiting film artists have brought their films to Upstate Films, including Jim Jarmusch, Julia Reichert, Steve Buscemi, Shirley Clarke, Jonathan Demme, Emile De Antonio, Karyn Kusama, Ethan Hawke, Debra Granik, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. Esteemed critics and scholars including Pauline Kael, J. Hoberman, Judith Crist, Stuart Klawans, and Thelma Adams have presented programs as well.
“Steve and DeDe have done it all,” said Susan Goldman, the Upstate Films board president. “Beginning with a modest program of American classics, Upstate soon pivoted to foreign films, indies and experimental cinema. As we’ve grown to three screens in two locations, they continued to find fantastic films and inspired countless high school students and others to consider the power of movies.
“They’ve built a film culture in the region and even served up popcorn, ran the projectors, sold tickets, designed ads, written grants, cleaned gum off the seats and handled, with grace and humor, the thousand challenges of running an independent film theater. Their legacy will always be at the center of our organization.”  

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    Oscar Nominated Short Films (this time it's virtual!)
    For the 16th consecutive year, Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures present the Oscar-Nominated Short Films, opening on April 2nd at our Virtual Cinema. With all three categories offered – Animated, Live Action and Documentary – this is your annual chance to predict the winners (and have the edge in your Oscar pool)! A perennial hit with audiences around the country and the world, don’t miss this year’s selection of shorts. The Academy Awards take place Sunday, April 25th. The three series are available to watch individually or as a package HERE on the eventive platform. Here are the nominees for the three categories: Best Documentary Short Subject Colette A Concerto is a Conversation Do Not Split Hunger Ward A Love Song For Latasha Best Animated Short Film “Burrow” “Genius Loci” “If Anything Happens I Love You” “Opera” “Yes-People” Best Live-Action Short Film “Feeling Through” “The Letter Room” “The Present” “Two Distant Strangers” “White Eye” Virtual Screening Link: HERE
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