16th Annual New Hampshire Film Festival Brings a Little Bit of Hollywood to the Granite State

Posted by Leah on 10/11/2016 9:12:44 AM

        Thursday October 13 (2016) will mark the kickoff of the four day 16th annual New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth (NH). It also marks my 5th year covering the festival, which brings about reflection of how much things have changed over the years.
        When I began covering NHFF five years ago I didn’t have an inkling of what I was doing. I was introduced to filmmakers, but the interactions were always awkward at best, since I had not the slightest clue how to interview people. I’d attend the cocktail and after parties, but mostly stand around by myself, not talking to anyone. I’m not shy by any means, but I had no idea what to talk about with the people who were there. Looking back at the previous years of my NHFF coverage is almost like looking at the contents of a time capsule. It’s very clear how much I’ve grown during these past five years, both as a writer and as an interviewer.
        These days when it comes time for me to introduce myself and talk to filmmakers I have little to no problem whatsoever. It can be difficult asking them questions when I haven’t yet seen the films they’ve made, but I’ve learned to adapt and take things in stride. They say that practice makes perfect, and while I wouldn’t say that I’m perfect, or even close to it, practice over the years has certainly helped on many levels.
        But enough about me, we’re here to talk about the 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival! Now in its 16
th year, NHFF promises parties, celebrities, over 100 films, numerous discussion panels, and more. Year after year NHFF has proven itself the biggest and best film festival north of Boston, but it is only now receiving recognition nationwide as a destination festival for filmmaker and film-goer alike. In April Movie Maker Magazine came out with its 50 Best Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, and NHFF was listed as one of the 50.
        Its little wonder NHFF is receiving such high praise, with names like Rae Dawn Chong, Tom Bergeron, Josh Meyers, John Michael Higgins, Alysia Reiner and Yolonda Ross slated to attend and participate in some of the many panels. And those are just the confirmed celebrities; there are always some unlisted special guests floating around.
        As for the panels themselves there is a lot to be excited about. Friday will feature the Politics in Filmmaking panel. The discussion will cover why New Hampshire is such a politically contested region, as well as how filmmakers and journalists can gain access to the campaigns. The panelists will also share some of their stories from the front lines covering the 2016 Presidential campaign.
         Saturday’s panels include the Insiders: Distribution and Marketing panel, as well as the highly anticipated Comedy Panel. This year’s comedy panel features Tom Bergeron, John Michael Higgins, Rae Dawn Chong and Josh Meyers. While usually held at the Portsmouth Discovery Center during the day on Saturday, festival organizers have decided to hold the Comedy panel Saturday night at The Music Hall Loft in hopes that far more people can and will attend. I’ve been to these panels in the past, and given that they’re usually standing room only I have no doubt that The Music Hall Loft will be packed for this one!
        Sunday will also include two panels: a one on one discussion with John Michael Higgins, and the Women in Film panel. The Women in Film panel will feature a discussion about the ways in which women in film, television and the media are working to break past stereotypes and prove they are worthy of pay equality in a male driven industry. Panelists will include Rae Dawn Chong, Yolonda Ross, Kate Kaminski and Caroline von Kuhn. If this panel is anything like the similar one held during the 2016 Bluestocking Film Festival it is not to be missed, no matter your gender.
        One of my favorite things about NHFF year after year is the astonishing number of big budget, straight out of Hollywood films they get, and this year is no different. Most of these are films that aren’t in theaters yet, so it feels like you’re sharing a secret with a couple hundred other people when you see them. This year’s lineup includes
Weiner, the documentary about Congressman Weiner’s mayoral run and subsequent scandals; Chronic, which stars Tim Roth; Trespass Against Us, starring Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris and Georgie Smith; Weiner-Dog, starring Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn and Julie Delpy; The Architect, starring Parker Posey, Eric McCormack and James Frain; and King Cobra, starring Garrett Clayton, James Franco, Christian Slater, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone and Keegan Allen.

        Of course, there are many, many other films to get excited about, and they run the gambit from comedies, to dramas, to animation, to documentary. If you can’t find something you’d like to see, you’re not trying hard enough! Nicole Gregg, Dan Hannon and the rest of the NHFF organizers work hard, year after year, to ensure the lineup of films that will be shown during NHFF is as broadly appealing and all-inclusive as possible. Will every person like every film shown? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for everyone.

        So whether it’s for one film, one day, or the whole four day weekend, come down to Portsmouth and join the estimated 10,000 other attendees in celebrating all that’s new in different in the world of film!

        The 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival runs October 13-16. More information about the schedule of films and tickets can be found by going to https://nhfilmfestival.com/. Stay tuned to my website and to my Twitter feed @LMovieLowdown for full coverage of the events as they happen, as well as frequent festival updates. I will have my full festival wrap up and reviews of the films in the future, so keep an eye out for those. I hope to see you there!