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20th Anniversary New Hampshire Film Festival Announces Awards After Four Captivating Days

Julian Higgins accepting the 2022 Van McLeod Award (photo by Miles Woodworth)

The largest film program in festival history thrilled audiences in downtown Portsmouth

Portsmouth, NH – The New Hampshire Film Festival (NHFF) came to a close on Sunday, October 9, after four days of film screenings, panel discussions, filmmaker gatherings, after-parties and special events. The festival welcomes upwards of 10,000 movie lovers each year to the Seacoast, with this year’s impressive slate presenting over 150 feature films, documentaries, short narratives, short documentaries and animated shorts including over 40 films with ties to New Hampshire.

Thaxter Hall, at St. John’s Church, joined the event’s robust lineup of screening venues to provide additional capacity. The Music Hall Historic Theater, the newly renovated Music Hall Lounge, Seacoast Repertory Theatre, 3S Artspace and The Press Room rounded out the festival’s prominent film-viewing experiences. Including special event and workshop venues, the festivities took place within 15 prominent downtown Portsmouth locations to again become the pulse of the walkable city.

The 20th annual event, held following two years of postponement due to COVID-19, saw new films from stars such as Karen Allen, Jillian Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Steve Coogan, Sally Hawkins, Vicky Krieps, Andie MacDowell, Paul Mezcal, Thandiwe Newton and William Sadler. The Young Filmmakers Workshop, a festival staple since inception, returned to educate and inspire its high-school aged participants over three intensive days featuring visits from previous students now working in the industry.

The festival’s New Hampshire Day & Night, which showcased films with ties to the Granite State on Thursday, included presentation of the 2022 Van McLeod Award. Recognizing New Hampshire natives and residents who have made significant contributions in film and television, this year’s recipient was Julian Higgins. Immediately following the award presentation, the audience experienced a screening of Higgins’ debut feature, God’s Country.

Thursday evening concluded with presentation of this year’s New Hampshire Awards:

Two of the festival’s most highly anticipated films, The Lost King and Aftersun, bookended Friday and Saturday night’s program respectively. Emmy Award-winning host Tom Bergeron joined the creators and co-stars of his new series Down the Middle for an exclusive viewing and discussion on Friday at The Press Room. The Annual Comedy Panel, hosted at 3S Artspace on Saturday, extended a full house of attendees the opportunity to get up-close and personal with special guests Gary Valentine, Laura Silverman, Josh Meyers, Aaron Lee and Robert Kelly.

The bulk of the awards honoring excellence in filmmaking and screenwriting were presented on Sunday, including the Live Action Shorts Jury Award and Animation Shorts Jury Award. The recipients of these two awards are now qualified to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for Academy Award® consideration in the Short Film category.

The following works were recognized during the awards portion of closing ceremonies:

  • Best Screenplay: BRUCE (written by Danny Latrenta & Eric Hanson)
  • Best Student Film: The Businessman (directed by Nathan Ginter)
  • Best Short Comedy: Half (directed by Jacob Roberts)
  • Best Short Drama: Gussy (directed by Chris Osborn)
  • Shorts Jury Award, Documentary: The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms (directed by Eloise Sherrid & Lauryn Welch)
  • Shorts Jury Award, Animation (Academy-Qualifying): We Are Here (directed by Constanza & Domenica Castro)
  • Shorts Jury Award, Live Action (Academy-Qualifying): Catching Spirits (directed by Vanessa Beletic)
  • Audience Choice, Documentary: Lily Topples the World (directed by Jeremy Workman)
  • Audience Choice, Narrative: How to Rob (directed by Peter Horgan)
  • Best Documentary Feature: The House We Lived In (directed by Tim O’Donnell)
  • Best Narrative Feature: Good Girl Jane (directed by Sarah Elizabeth Mintz)
  • Grand Jury Award, Documentary: Naked Gardens (directed by Patrick Bresnan & Ivete Lucas)
  • Grand Jury Award, Narrative: Way Out Ahead of Us (directed by Rob Rice)

Following the ceremony, the festival officially concluded with a screening of the feature narrative R.M.N. at The Music Hall.

To stay up to date on all things New Hampshire Film Festival, visit nhfilmfestival.com.

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