image STF’s Winter Season features sneak previews of new films such as SNOWBLIND and THE ART OF THE STEAL combined with classic revivals such as the RUNNING FENCE (1978) and DAVID HOLZMAN’S DIARY (1967). The revelations begin with two pre-season screenings of films honored on “the shortlist”, WHICH WAY HOME about child migrants traveling through Mexico on freight trains (on Jan 5); and VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR, chronicling the end of an era in fashion (on Jan 11). As always at STF, the directors will be in attendance for a Q&A and the conversation continues afterward at a nearby bar.

The official 10-week Winter Season begins on Jan 12 with the Opening Night presentation of SNOWBLIND, directed by Vikram Jayanti, following its audience-pleasing premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Jayanti has a long and diverse documentary career with credits as co-producer of WHEN WE WERE KINGS and director of JAMES ELLROY’S FEAST OF DEATH and GAME OVER: KASPAROV AND THE MACHINE. In this new work, he follows Rachel Scdoris, a 23-year-old adventurer who competes in the grueling Iditarod dogsled race despite her handicap of being legally blind. Jayanti, who normally divides his time between London and Los Angeles, will join us to recount the incredible stories behind the making of this film.

On Jan 19, Albert Maysles the acclaimed co-director of GIMME SHELTER and GREY GARDENS, will visit STF to present his 1978 collaboration RUNNING FENCE following the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude as they attempt to rig a giant curtain fence from rural California into the Pacific Ocean. On Jan 26, the editor Jean Tsien will present THE BIGGEST CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD directed by the China-based director Weijun Chen. Two years ago, their previous work PLEASE VOTE FOR ME was a huge crowd-pleaser at STF. This new one looks at a restaurant built on the scale of an amusement park, profiling characters from the top to the bottom of China’s new economy.

On Feb 2, STF is proud to welcome one of the great American doc makers for “A Night with Ross McElwee” (pictured). Best known for his landmark film SHERMAN’S MARCH, McElwee will travel from his base in Cambridge, MA to present a lesser known title from his catalogue still to be determined. Stay tuned to this web site for updates. On Feb 9, we’re delighted to host another documentary great Chris Hegedus, making a return visit to STF. She’ll be showing her doc STARTUP.COM (co-directed with Jehane Noujaim), the critically-acclaimed portrayal of entrepreneurs riding the wave of the dotcom frenzy in the late 1990s. The film gains extra resonance against the back drop of today’s economy. On Feb 16, director Don Argott will visit from Philadelphia to show THE ART OF THE STEAL which has become one of the most anticipated docs of the year, following its screenings at the Toronto and New York film festivals. Argott tracks the power struggle to gain control of Albert Barnes’ art collection valued in the billions. On Feb 23, fresh from his world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, director Dan Klores will appear with WINNING TIME: REGGIE MILLER VS. THE NEW YORK KNICKS, a marvelous work that explores the great 1990s sports rivalry. Klores, who previously made CRAZY LOVE and the college basketball series BLACK MAGIC, elicits delightful trash-talking interviews from Miller, Patrick Ewing, Spike Lee and other key participants.

Moving into the Winter Season’s final month on Mar 2, director Judith Helfand presents her debut film A HEALTHY BABY GIRL (1997). This remarkable first-person film explores her fight against cancer caused by drugs that were prescribed to her mother during pregnancy. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Helfand’s cancer survival. She went on co-direct BLUE VINYL and EVERYTHING’S COOL; and to run Chicken & Egg, a fund for women filmmakers. On Mar 9, NYU professor Dan Streible brings us the third STF edition of THE BEST OF THE ORPHAN FILM SYMPOSIUM. “Orphan film” is a term used by archivists to describe footage that turns up without any known owner. The work ranges from home movies to educational films to newsreels to the impossible to categorize. Every two years, Streible organizes a symposium of archivists from around the world to showcase their latest discoveries; and he brings the choice gems from this event to STF. It’s hard to describe the sense of discovery at these shows, but – trust us – the night is unforgettable. On Mar 16, for the Closing Night of the Winter Season, we’ll show the rarely screened classic DAVID HOLZMAN’S DIARY (1967), joined for the Q&A by L.M. Kit Carson aka “David Holzman.” This blend of documentary and fiction is a sly commentary on the first generation of cinema verite filmmaking.

Remember, over half of STF shows sell out in advance. The best way to ensure you don’t miss out is to purchase a season pass, available at the early bird special rate of $95. For that price you can see all 12 films described above, plus get 2 free dvds courtesy of our sponsor Docurama, and free popcorn at every STF show. If you ever can’t make a show, you can give the pass to a friend. The early bird special is good until December 31, 2009, then prices rise. To buy a pass, follow the link on to WHICH WAY HOME, click on 8:00 pm and look for the season pass box.