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TAKING WOODSTOCK

About The Production
Remember Woodstock? Well, if you do, as the saying goes, then – you probably weren't there.

While Woodstock itself is a great subject, it's one not readily able to be captured in a film – and, furthermore, it's been done definitively; Michael Wadleigh's threehour 1970 documentary feature Woodstock won an Academy Award. Taking Woodstock producer James Schamus, who adapted the film's script from Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, A Concert, and A Life, written by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte, explains, "What we're doing is telling a tiny piece of that story, from a little corner of unexpected joy that happened almost by accident and which helped this incredible event take place.”

It was almost by accident that Tiber's tale happened to come to Schamus' longtime filmmaking partner, Academy Award-winning director/producer Ang Lee. In October 2007, Lee was booked on a San Francisco talk show to discuss their film Lust, Caution, which was about to open locally. Tiber was booked on the same show to discuss his book, which had recently been published. While waiting to go on, Tiber struck up a conversation with Lee, and gave Lee a copy of his memoirs. Lee remembers, "A few days later, an old friend from film school, Pat Cupo, called. He told me he had heard that Elliot had given me the book, and encouraged me to read it.”

Tiber enthuses, "Getting the ‘yes' from Ang Lee was truly the ultimate trip. I have found in my life that whether you find the action, or the action finds you, the crucial thing is to act – and always now.”

Lee saw Taking Woodstock as following naturally from his previous work. If his 1973-set movie The Ice Storm was, as he says, "the hangover of 1969, then Taking Woodstock is the beautiful night before and the last moments of innocence. "After making several tragic movies in a row, I was looking to do a comedy – and one without cynicism. It's also a story of liberation, honesty, and tolerance – and of a ‘naïve spirit' that we cannot and must not lose.”

Schamus also cottoned to the project immediately, and saw bringing the film to audiences as an opportunity for "a new generation to go back and visit Woodstock and get a feel for what it must've been like when you could have hope, and really move some mountains and enjoy it.

"Because we embraced that ethos, Ang actually enjoyed the hard work on this film. This is Ang's and my eleventh film together; he keeps raising the stakes for himself and meeting new challenges.”

To make Taking Woodstock, the pair was joined by two-time Emmy Award-winning producer Celia Costas. She notes, "Ang Lee was going to be making a movie about when I came of age, almost in my backyard – an opportunity I couldn't pass up! "In the late 1960s, the world was your oyster, whether politically or socially. We were in the middle of a war, but despite that it was such a positive time and we felt that if we got together we could do anything. That's something which has sorely been missed, and perhaps we are trying to begin to recapture that now.”

Costas found that "with his script, James created a smart and funny world that Ang can flourish in; he's able to give Ang situations and concepts that Ang, as a unique humanist filmmaker, can – and does – run with.”

Schamus notes, "Underneath all the comedy in this movie are emotions, and meditations on what it means for people to transform themselves.”

In those respects, this latest work harkens back to the Lee/Schamus team's earliest collaborations, while also continuing Lee's career-long exploration of familial/generational dynamics. For Elliot and his Jewish immigrant parents Sonia and Jake Teichberg (portrayed in the film by acclaimed U.K. actors Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman), getting unexpectedly caught up in the pre

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