2016 New Hampshire Film Festival was One for the Record Books!

Posted by Leah on 10/18/2016 1:24:55 PM

        The 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival was held in Portsmouth (NH) over the weekend (Oct. 13-16), and was overflowing with films, panels, parties, beer, food and more.
        Thursday kicked off with the New Hampshire Program, which means that all of the films shown had a New Hampshire connection of some sort, be it where they were filmed, where the cast was from, where the director or writer was from, etc. The program began at 10:30 am at the Music Hall Loft with the screening of several short films. Films were also shown at The Music Hall simultaneously throughout the day. Of all of the days of the festival, I think Thursday may be my favorite. It’s exciting to see what kind of quality material is coming out of such a small state, and many of the screenings include Q&A sessions afterwards with the filmmakers, since the festival is in their backyard.
Filmmakers Answering Questions at The Loft

Filmmakers Answering Questions at The Loft

        What was most interesting to me about Thursday’s screenings in particular was the obvious growth in the festival as a whole. In the past, showing up within five minutes of screening times on Thursday was no big deal, as the crowds weren’t that big because many people have to work. This year was different in that respect. I arrived at The Loft twenty five minutes early for the first screening and there was already a good sized line waiting for the doors to open. Once everyone had been let in and taken their seats it was clear that The Loft was close to capacity. It’s a real testament to Nicole Gregg, Dan Hannon, and the rest of the NHFF crew’s hard work in getting the word out about the festival that so many people were there on what is a typical work day.
The Loft was packed for the first screening during NHFF 2016

The Loft was packed for the first screening during NHFF 2016

        Another thing that tipped me off to the level the festival has grown was the Thursday evening program at The Music Hall. Again, this screening is typically not too packed, making finding seats relatively easy. That was not the case this year. While not overflowing, The Music Hall was
very full of eager film lovers waiting to see the best of the best that New Hampshire has to offer the world of film.
        The highlight of the evening was the much anticipated short film
Split Ticket.  As soon as the film’s title appeared onscreen, loud cheers and clapping erupted from the audience. While I have witnessed such phenomenon at other festivals, they couldn’t compare to this. It was almost as though the anticipation for the film had been painful in some way, and when the title flashed onscreen there was an overjoyed sense of relief. The film itself was very interesting, and I will bring you my review of it in the future.
        Friday featured films shown across three venues, The Music Hall, The Loft and 3S Artspace, starting at 10:15 am, and going until 9:25 pm. Fridays are where the difficult choices begin, as it’s terribly hard to choose what to see and what to miss. One person can’t possibly see everything, since there are so many films shown simultaneously, so there are always coin flip decisions to be made.
        The other thing that Friday brings is even bigger crowds. The crowds this year were so big anyways, that it was hard to imagine what the Friday night features would bring. Showing up very early is the name of the game for both Friday and Saturday nights, and even then there are no guarantees. But the minor headache of possibly not getting a seat is worth it to see the films featured these two nights. This is when the crème de la crème are shown, and if you’ve ever attended NHFF then you know you’d be crazy to miss them!
Lots of people dancing at the 3S Artspace Afterparty Friday

Lots of people dancing at the 3S Artspace Afterparty Friday

        The big feature I caught Friday was shown after the red carpet and opening ceremonies at The Loft. The film was
Weiner, and is the highly regarded documentary that covered Former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s recent run for mayor of New York City. The film was far better than I’d even dared to hope, and I’ll definitely be writing something about it in the near future, so stay tuned for that.

        Saturday brought more of everything: more films across more venues, more people and more panels. The Moffat Ladd house was added as a venue, bringing the total to four places simultaneously screening films, making it even less likely for one person to see it all. Films began at 10:15 am and ran until 10:40 pm, making for a VERY film filled day.

        Saturday night is always the hardest when it comes to getting a seat for a particular film, and this year was no different. After seeing
Chronic (which I’ll review soon) at 5:25, I walked down the stairs and into The Music Hall  lobby so that they could reset for the next screening, only to find that there was no easy way out. There were people spilling from the lobby onto the street waiting for the 7 pm showing of Equity. I stuck around for a few minutes in hopes of grabbing a seat for the film, but it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t making it in to this one. I ran to The Loft in the off chance that I’d have better luck there, only to be turned away. Of course, this is great news for the festival, but bad news for me. I’m going to try to find the films I missed so that I can tell you about them in the future, so keep a look out for those.

        Sunday’s program began at 10:05 at The Music Hall with the screening of several Pixar Shorts for the Family Fun Block. At 10:30 I made my way to the Portsmouth Discovery Center for the Women in Film Panel with Kate Kaminski, Rae Dawn Chong, and others. The women discussed a range of topics including pay inequality, the lack of female directors, the lack of diversity, and what the public can do to change perceptions in the film industry. The panel was very informative and eye opening, and even ended up running a little over time, as no one wanted the discussion to end.
Women in Film Panelists Left to Right: Rae Dawn Chong, Erin Trahan, Amy Greene, Kate Kaminski and Caroline Von Kuhn

Women in Film Panelists Left to Right: Rae Dawn Chong, Erin Trahan, Amy Greene, Kate Kaminski and Caroline Von Kuhn

        The rest of Sunday featured a one on one with actor John Michael Higgins, more great films, and the closing ceremonies.

        It’s always challenging after attending an event of this magnitude to decide which films I liked best. While I don’t necessarily like them all, the ones I do like all have so many great things about them, and are so different in so many ways that it can be hard to choose. If I had to pick though, some of my favorites of this year’s NHFF would include
Shadows Fall North, which is the story of slavery in NH and the African Burial Ground Memorial in Portsmouth; Weiner, Earworm, Split Ticket, Seven Miles Out, Pickle, and My Dark Side and My Light Side Meet in a Bar to Discuss the New Star Wars Movie, which is by the same filmmaker behind The Morning of Everything, which I reviewed after last year’s festival.

        I’ll be sure to bring you reviews of many of the films included in the 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival in the future. More information about NHFF and the films can be found by going to