Ice Yachts, Catskill Mountains and 12-foot Rabbits

Photo by Deborah Medenbach

The Hudson Valley Short Documentaries are a breath of fresh air, sip of clean water and tribute to creative spirits that remind us of why living in this part of the state is about as good as it gets.

Opening with “Against the Wind” documentary by Tomasz Gubernats and Chris Nostrand, the film captures the historic weekend last winter where the Jack Frost matched blades with the Rocket for the first time in 122 years. The young filmmakers were unaware that the last time these ice yachts had competed was on Orange Lake for the Van Nostrand Cup, still held today by the North Shrewsbury Ice Yacht Club. The restored vessels met off Astor Point last winter for a period of unprecedented ice availability — 20 miles of 12″ thick ice on the Hudson River — allowing these, the largest ice yachts in the country so show what they were made of. Through interviews and artful camera use, the filmmakers captured the essence of what has drawn ice yacht skippers to the rivers and lakes since the 1860s.

“Catskill Park” by Nina Warren is a tribute to the pristine and beautiful Catskill Mountains. Through interviews with environmentalists, activists, celebrities and presidential descendants, Warren advocates for continued protection of the region.

“The Game Changer” documents Susan Slotnik’s modern dance program for incarcerated men at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, the only such program in North America. Slotnik, of New Paltz, has a lifetime of dance instruction behind her but finds a special satisfaction in seeing men express themselves through dance when no one expected the program to take root and succeed in a jail environment.

The 12-Foot Rabbits of Rokeby Farm by Samuel Crow and Rubi Rose is probably the most successful because of a weather failure. The film documents the construction of White Rabbit puppets and clocks for the 2012 New York Halloween Parade and the intricate choreography that went into this project, foiled by the cancellation of the parade by Superstorm Sandy. The only performance of “Tick Tock” was the dress rehearsal recorded by the filmmakers at Rokeby Farm two days before the storm hit.

Waning Wolf by Ian Todaro is an homage to the Wolf Conservation Center of South Salem.

The Hudson Valley Documentaries screen at 2:15 p.m. Sat. at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.

–Deborah Medenbach


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