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Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard (dp)

The 15th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) set to run from September 9 – 12 in Great Barrington and September 10 – 12 in Pittsfield, announced a lineup of 22 documentaries, 20 narrative features and 18 short films; with multi award-winning actor Alfre Woodard as the 2021 BIFF Honoree.

The festival opens with Bernstein’s Wall, the documentary film about Beloved Berkshire Icon Leonard Bernstein and close with the New England Premiere of the highly acclaimed documentary, Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free.

“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.”

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9 — Opening Night, Great Barrington.

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.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 — Tribute Night.

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.

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