The Hippo


Jul 5, 2020








The 16th New Hampshire Film Festival hits Portsmouth Oct. 13. Mark Couture photo.

New Hampshire Film Festival

Where: Discover Portsmouth Center, 10 Middle St., Portsmouth; The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth; The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St., Portsmouth; The Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, 154 Market St., Portsmouth; 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth
When: Thursday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 16
Admission: VIP pass $200, weekend pass $75, Thursday pass $20, Friday, Saturday or Sunday pass $35
Contact:, 647-6439,

Well-oiled machine
NH Film Festival returns to Portsmouth Oct. 13

By Kelly Sennott

 The 16th New Hampshire Film Festival promises 100 films, including 38 New Hampshire-affiliated titles, that patrons can check out Thursday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 16, in downtown Portsmouth. 

“Much of the festival is like a well-oiled machine. The films change every year, partnerships change every year, but the foundation is there,” NHFF Executive Director Nicole Gregg said via phone. 
In addition to screenings, the four-day event features workshops, panels and parties, which happen at the same venues as the 2015 festival: The Discover Portsmouth Center, The Music Hall, The Music Hall Loft, The Moffatt-Ladd House and 3S Artspace.
But Gregg did note a few additions, like a virtuality lounge at festival headquarters — the Discover Portsmouth Center — featuring camera and lighting equipment and new filmmaking technology. It’s also hosting the first technical-based workshop NHFF has seen in a while. 
And, Gregg said, the 2016 NHFF contains a new “women in film” panel in honor of the Saturday night feature, Equity, about a woman on Wall Street threatened by a financial scandal who must untangle a web of corruption.
“It’s still, unfortunately, a male-dominated industry,” Gregg said. “I think a lot of female filmmakers are making an effort to create roles that offer a stronger presence for women.”
Attendees can keep their eye out for this year’s celebrity guests, who include John Michael Higgins (Seinfeld, Arrested Development, Pitch Perfect and Best in Show), Tom Bergeron, host of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and TV and film actress Alicia Witt.
Many filmmakers with New Hampshire ties see NHFF as a homecoming of sorts. They travel back to the Granite State to get exposure, see their projects on the big screen and rub elbows with other industry professionals, but it’s also a draw to see friends and family still living in the area.
One of these filmmakers is Robert Scott Wildes, director and co-writer of the feature narrative Poor Boy, a Western about two misfit brothers hustling cash and chasing dreams in the desert. It screened at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring, and at the time of the phone call, he was in negotiations with distributors. 
Wildes lived in Bedford and Merrimack as a kid and went to The Derryfield School in Manchester, and this is his third film in the festival. NHFF, he said, has been very supportive of his career; it’s the first one he ever got into back in 2007, and he’s happy to see how much it’s grown.
“I have filmmaker friends who’ve had their movies screen there, and they had great experiences. It’s cool to see the [festival’s] reputation gaining momentum throughout the country. And Portsmouth in October — how can you pass that up? It’s like the most beautiful place in America,” Wildes said.
This is also the third NHFF for filmmaker Tara Price, who wrote and directed Earworm and grew up in Hampton. Hers is a “creepy, unsettling” film, according to its description, a short about a reclusive man who’s repeatedly woken up over the course of a night by severe headaches accompanied by musical repetition from an unknown source. A high school friend, Brian James, composed the song that plays a large role in the movie.
Justin Connor, who grew up in Manchester, presents his premiere feature, The Golden Age, which he directed, produced, starred in and wrote the music for. It’s a fictitious documentary about a subversive pop star, Maya O’Malley (played by Connor) who, after a string of incendiary remarks in the press, gets dropped from his music label. He said via phone that making the film was a long process but a labor of love.
“The fact that anybody ever completes a film is sort of a miracle. I really worked tirelessly over a number of years on this, and I’m so proud of it,” Connor said. “It will be good to celebrate other filmmakers’ films as much as mine.” 

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