There was once a time when peoplewould only see new movies attheir local movie theater. If youwere really a film buff, you might take inthe occasional film festival in Toronto,Berlin, or Cannes. In the mid-1970s,before videotapes and DVDs, when everycity in America had their own film festival,Judith Crist, then film critic for magazine, had a novel idea:Combine movies with gourmet food andluxurious accommodations. She envisionedbuilding a weekend around aguest actor or director and their old andnew films. The audience could minglewith critics and guests in formal andinformal discussions.
Tarrytown's Tinsel Town
Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, ArthurPenn, and Woody Allen are just a few ofthe many luminaries who participated inthose early film weekends at theTarrytown Conference Center in Tarrytown,NY. Crist's concept worked out well,and the film weekends are still goingstrong today. "The weekend cruises withouta ship," Crist explains. The advent ofthe VCR, however, forced the Tarrytownfilm weekends to evolve. With access toold movies, audiences became less interestedin weekends built around an actoror director's previous films and more interestedin previewing new films.
The popularity of home videos couldnot ruin the film weekends, though.That's because the weekends were neverreally about sitting back and watching oldmovies. The film weekends were originallyintended to provide participants withthe chance to be film critics. The weekendsoffered participants the opportunityto discuss their opinions with professionalcritics and filmmakers over meals, in hallways,while strolling through the beautifulconference landscape, and in more formalsessions after a film's showing.
Lights, Camera, Action
In recent years, Crist has been joinedby cohost Peter Travers, the very knowledgeablefilm critic for whose witty and perceptive insightsinvariably add extra layers of meaning toa film. Crist and Travers now preside over2 weekends a year—one in March and a3-day New Year's film festival gala andcelebration. The 3-day film festival previews10 new films. Various filmmakersand actors are often present for post-filmdiscussions. On New Year's Day, Crist andTravers lead a wrap-up discussion on filmsseen, the year in film, and any other topicsof interest. Of course, there's also aNew Year's Eve party surrounded by films.
Cold Mountain, Chicago,Bend It Like Beckham,
Super Size Me
Off the Map
TheSecret Lives of Dentists
At past weekends, audiences havebeen treated to advance screenings ofsuch films as and . Infact, audiences are sometimes treated toadvanced screenings months before afilm's official release. At last March'sweekend, highlights included the documentary by directorMorgan Spurlock, a festival circuitfavorite, and , a moving filmabout life in a remote area of NewMexico directed by Campbell Scott (). Both Spurlockand Scott participated in discussions afterthe films were shown.
For 30 years, the Judith Crist filmweekends at Dolce Tarrytown House(www.tarrytownhouse.dolce.com) havebeen a special place to see new films,meet the people who made them, andexperience the world of film, entertainment,and art in a relaxed atmosphere.Unlike at other film festivals, there is noneed to search for accommodations, runfrom theater to theater, or look for aquick place to eat between films. Simplymake a reservation, show up, sign in, andsit back and relax. And for those whowant to burn off a few calories betweenmovies and meals, there is a full exercisefacility on the premises that has a pool,weight room, handball court, and sauna.
If all of this sounds appealing, thenmake plans to join Judith Crist, PeterTravers, and friends at Dolce TarrytownHouse on New Year's Eve. For reservations,call 914-591-8200 or 800-553-8118.The conference center is located just offI-287, one mile south of the Tappan ZeeBridge in Tarrytown, NY. It's about a half-hourdrive north of New York City. Thefilm festival gala is a safe, relaxing, andfun way to ring in the New Year.
Carlos Henriquez, MD, recently retired from 35years of family practice in the Mid-Hudson Valley ofNew York State. He spent his student years atColumbia University—both college and medicalschool—and 2 years of general practice residency inFlemington, NJ. When not practicing medicine overthe years, he filled most of his free time watching andwriting about films for various local publications. Henow plans to devote himself full-time to the study offilms, hoping to someday find one that will equal orsurpass his all-time favorite, The Third Man.