Upstate Films, a non-profit, member-supported arts organization, has provided alternatives to mainstream film exhibitions since its establishment in May 1972. The organization’s commitment to film as a medium of social communication and aesthetic experience is evident through its diverse programming of over 700 yearly screenings. This eclectic mix encompasses various themes, issues, and regions, often including films rarely screened in the country, particularly in a semi-rural area like the Hudson Valley.

Established in Rhinebeck from the outset and in Saugerties since February 2010, Upstate Films has remained steadfast in its pursuit of audience development. The organization views “development” not merely as a marketing strategy but as a means of intellectual development. By contextualizing films and placing them within a broader societal and cultural context, they value the audience as integral to their mission.

From initially operating as a three-person, Thursday-through-Sunday setup, Upstate Films has grown to a staff of seven and now offers screenings seven days a week, year-round. Despite a modest budget and lacking the benefit of an endowment, the organization has stayed true to its commitment to providing an alternative to mainstream film exhibitions and reflecting the diversity of film culture through its programming. This programming includes independent, international, documentary, animation, experimental, artistically enduring U.S. and foreign language classics, and silent films.

See what’s playing at Upstate Films.

Momentum Teen Film Initiative

Upstate Films believes in the power of a well-timed movie to change lives. The Momentum Project is dedicated to bringing high-quality stories about real-life heroes, inspiring movements, and pioneering human endeavors to middle and high school students. These programs, which have a proven track record of inspiring and educating a new generation of scientists, artists, and community leaders, include screenings followed by lively, expert-led discussions. During the 2022-23 school year, Upstate reached 1,726 students in Dutchess and Ulster counties, and they know firsthand the impact this initiative has had on these students.

Each program begins with screening a powerful film from a carefully curated library, including STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) stories, Hudson Valley histories, and movies promoting empathy and understanding of other cultures. All programs are designed with input from educators and are intended to integrate the experience into class curricula. Educators may also receive advance planners to allow classroom discussion before the event.