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barbara kopple
Los Angeles Times, January 26 2000
There’s Lots Here to Like
My Generation

By Kenneth Turan

Barbara Kopple is one of the most respected documentary directors of her generation, with Academy Awards for “Harlan County” and “American Dream.” Yet she too is in Sundance with a marvelous, just-about-completed work in progress on all three Woodstock music festivals called “My Generation.”
Filled with music and vivid on-the-scene reportage, “My Generation” is a thought-provoking and surprising answer to the expected question of what was different and what was the same about the kids who came out to have fun in 1969, 1994 and 1999. it is also a potent case history of how difficult it can be to get even the most promising documentaries made and how artistically rich the payoff can be for perseverance.

Kopple was brought on to film the 1994 event, hence the striking behind-the-scenes footage detailing how things like sponsorship deals were worked out. (There was even an official Woodstock ’94 condom, which is why “My Generation” condoms were being handed out here as promotional items.)
A few months later, Polygram, which was sponsoring the festival, “got cold feet about the concert and tried to stop the filming,” Kopple reports. “They thought by taking away the money, of course, I would stop. But I wouldn’t let a small thing like money get in my way. Everyone, my family, my friends, said, ‘Now you’ve gone overboard,’ but I was so into it. I just kept doing it myself.”
Kopple ended up putting her own money and time for six years. When she was in the finishing stages of editing the film, the 199 festival was announced, and Kopple, still without a funding source, “leapt on it. I said ‘We’re going.’ It was like a gift.”

Now, with footage of the burning of concession stands that was the most visible part of the 1999 event included, “My Generation” caught a break. Polygram was sold to Universal and the film has been completely freed up for distribution, which Kopple hopes to get out of its Sundace screening.
“Woodstock has been a pivotal experience for three generations,” she says. “It’s the culmination of so much that has gone on in the 1900s, and I wanted to show who these generations are.”