AFI Movie Club: WOODSTOCK – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: WOODSTOCK

The iconic documentary, WOODSTOCK, captured the landmark Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York during the twilight of the 1960s. The film represents a pivotal convergence in music, political activism and countercultural history.

Watch Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple announce today’s film. 

Movie Trivia about WOODSTOCK 

DID YOU KNOW the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, NY, attracted an audience of more than 300,000, far exceeding the expectations of festival promoters? 

DID YOU KNOW the motley 80-member crew worked 18 hours per day during the festival, filming from 2 p.m.–10 a.m.? 

DID YOU KNOW that a young Martin Scorsese – recipient of the 25th AFI Life Achievement Award – worked as an assistant director and editor on WOODSTOCK? Thelma Schoonmaker – Scorsese’s own longtime collaborator and recipient of an AFI Honorary Degree in 2000 – also worked as an editor on the film.

DID YOU KNOW amid all the chaos, no one asked any performers to sign releases? Jerry Wexler — who A&R’d the soundtrack album for Atlantic Records — had to plead for signatures, one by one.  

DID YOU KNOW, at the end of the festival, director Michael Wadleigh and his crew had 70 miles of raw footage and none of it synced to the sound, which was recorded separately? Wadleigh and editor Thelma Schoonmaker spent two months finding onstage cues that would allow them to sync the multiple cameras to the audio tracks. 

DID YOU KNOW that after the festival, the production team relocated to Los Angeles, CA, and began six months of 18-hour workdays to synchronize and edit 315,000 feet of exposed film? 

DID YOU KNOW that sound engineer Eric Blackstead revealed that mixing and editing the soundtrack required three months of intensive work at the Record Plant studio in Los Angeles, during which he suffered a collapsed lung? 

DID YOU KNOW that while all of the music was captured on tape, the camera crew was only required to photograph the first and last songs from each set, or possibly an encore? 

DID YOU KNOW that while Joni Mitchell actually missed Woodstock, hearing about the festival inspired her to write the hit song “Woodstock”? A version of the song by Crosby, Stills and Nash plays over the closing credits in Michael Wadleigh’s documentary 

DID YOU KNOW that WOODSTOCK was screened at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival but received mixed reactions? Director Michael Wadleigh introduced the picture by dedicating it to the four students killed in the Kent State University shootings. He was also joined on stage by approximately 1,000 “hippies,” many of whom were reportedly hired by Warner Bros., all wearing black armbands to honor the four victims. Many in the audience reacted with disdain when Wadleigh invited them to join the demonstration. 

DID YOU KNOW that WOODSTOCK was nominated for three Academy Awards®, including Best Editing for Thelma Schoonmaker and Best Sound for Dan Wallin and L. A. Johnson, and won the Best Documentary Feature? 

DID YOU KNOW to mark the festival’s 25th anniversary, a 224 minutes director’s cut of the film was theatrically released? It included additional performances by Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix’s set at the end of the film was also extended with two additional numbers. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

 

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How do you think Woodstock captured the zeitgeist of the 1960s? 

-Why do you think the film was as successful as it was? How was it innovative for its time? 

-What cinematic devices do the filmmakers use to capture the energy and excitement of the music festival and transport audiences back to that time and place? 

-How did the festival showcase political activism at the time? 

-Was the hopeful promise encapsulated by this younger generation ultimately fulfilled? 

-What is your favorite performance captured in WOODSTOCK? 

-What’s your favorite concert film? How does WOOSTOCK compare to GIMME SHELTER, THE LAST WALTZ and MONTEREY POP? 

-Why is the documentary WOODSTOCK still relevant today? 

-How did Woodstock differ from Altamont, which took place a few months later on the West Coast? 

-How is the music festival experience different today compared to Woodstock? 

-How would you rate WOODSTOCK? 

​Watch the exclusive video from the AFI Archive in which WOODSTOCK filmmaker Martin Scorsese talks about recording history.

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

 

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