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It’s that time of year again!

I know this because every conversation I’ve had over the past couple weeks is similar, “Zac can you tell me which films, which special events, which panels which workshops and most importantly which parties to go to?”

So before I circle another film pick on another program, I figure it’s time to broadcast my picks for NH Film Festival 2011.

Let’s face it, this festival is daunting: 90 films, eight panels and workshops, three after parties, VIP brunch, hospitality tents, NH Day and Night Program, Opening Night Ceremonies, award ceremonies, receptions, participating restaurants etc, so here are some tips to best navigate this year’s fest.

A couple things to remember…. I am a guy and I tend to like guy things. This isn’t Nicole’s picks. She’s too busy.  Since I’m the only one, other than her who has seen all of these films, you’re stuck with my picks. So enjoy them, for whatever they are worth.

First, a couple general announcements.

1. Headquarters opens Thursday morning at the Sheraton Harborside. The 2011 Rule Boston Camera Headquarters, Mac Edge Internet Café and Olde Port Properties Panel and Workshop Stage are all at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside this year. Not the Connie Bean Center or the Marriot Residence Inn Downtown.

2. The Saturday Night Moet and Chandon After party is at Surf Restaurant not Pesce Blue. They are going all out for it, this is a can’t miss!

3. Robert’s Maine Grill and KPW Events are going all out for the hospitality tent, Saturday, down at the decks at Harbor place on the river.  Our sponsors, Stella, Moet and Chandon, Absolut and Francis Ford Coppola are pouring off libations and Robert’s award winning chowder will be flowing.

4. There is a lot of nudity in this year’s films.

5. I apologize in advance for talking about myself in the third person.

6. I have split my picks into Zac’s Picks and Zac’s Schedule. This way if you plan on attending the whole fest make sure you see my top picks and if you only have one day or one time of one day you can choose the best thing happening during that time period.

Zac’s Schedule by Day

THURSDAY- NH Day and Night

NH Day and Night is all about NH.

These films are all made in, made by or have actors from NH.

These films are stunning and show off the breadth of professional and amateur filmmaking coming out of our great state.

The only Thursday screening venue is at The Music Hall.

The NH Film and Television office puts on two great panels at the Sheraton (check the program for names and times).

Morning time getting ready at the Rule Boston Camera Headquarters at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside .

1:45 Eyewitness Gaza – NH Film Festival Alumni Tom Jackson and Granny Award Winner.

2:15 Brief Reunion – This feature film by Dartmouth students inspired by Bill Pence (Of the Telluride Film Festival) is a very well done thriller on what had to be a miniscule budget.  It is rare that NH Day and Night accepts a feature film.  So this is a rare treat for a Thursday. Although it starts slow, they are really just setting the stage cause this film got really intense and kept me on the edge of my seat.

5:00 Superheroes – Concord NH’s Michael Barnett another NHFF alumni and past Granny Award Winner does an incredible job w this feature length documentary about regular people who do amazing things.  You have to see this.

6:30 to 7:00 NH Night Reception- A couple drinks in the lobby of The Music Hall catered by Flatbreads Pizza

7:00 – 10:00 NH Night Begins! I get the best seat I can, I like the balcony.  I get a tub of popcorn and I sit back and enjoy the show.

My favorite part of NH Night is Portsmouth’s own, comedian Justin McKinney. He’s amazingly funny and hosts this special evening of shorts.

The final 2 blocks of shorts are in a competition for best NH Short Film and they are all amazing

Who will win the Van McLeod award or NH Filmmaker of the Year?

10:00 Flatbreads After party NH Film and Television Office NH Night After Party, for me this is when the festival really begins.  I love this party and the food! You won’t want to miss this spread.

FRIDAY- The Music Hall TMH, The Loft TL, Moffatt Ladd House MLH, Sheraton Amphitheater SA

All films at The Music Hall are amazing! So I will talk about where I would be if I were not at The Music Hall

Baaria, playing at 10am at The Music Hall which is an amazing epic…. is 2hrs and 40 Mins long

Friday is Opening night of the International Film Festival portion of the NH Film Festival

10:15 am Challenging Impossibility, Sun City Picture House, TL… Both of these Short Doc’s are what Film Festivals are all about… worth getting up for!

11:25 am Marathon Boy, TL…. Could be my favorite doc of the fest and this is it’s only showing DO NOT MISS THIS SCREENING!

3:00 pm When The Drum is Beating, TL Incredible story about Haiti and Music… so good!

4:10 – 7pm Every film that starts during this time period is great! I love the Short Block at SA, ditto for the Short Block at TL or Holy Rollers at TL a doc about a Christian black jack team, so good!

7-8pm Opening Night Reception at TMH… have a couple drinks and relax before Opening night ceremonies and our opening night feature

8:20pm Puncture at TMH, our opening night feature film. Quite possibly the best film of the fest! Brett Cullen is in attendance.

10:00 – The opening night party sponsored by Absolut Vodka at The Gaslight, Third Floor Club.  This is quite simply the hottest ticket, the biggest and best party of the festival!

SATURDAY – The Music Hall TMH, The Loft TL, Moffatt Ladd House MLH, Sheraton Amphitheater SA

All films at The Music Hall are amazing! So I will talk about where I would be if I were not at The Music Hall.

11:50 Sun City Picture House, Kazziah the Goat Woman, TL… Both of these Short Doc’s are what Film Festivals are all about…. Truly Incredible, especially Kazziah!

1:00 Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream w/ Special Program, TL… Jimmy is a local comedian who as an entrepreneur starts a comedy club in Somerville Ma. The club hosts the who’s who of the comedy circuit but eventually succumbs to the failing economy.  However this doesn’t hold him back from achieving even more… You’ll have to see it understand.  This film is good but Jimmy is great and he will be in attendance and will do an interactive comedic Q&A immediately following

1:00 – 4:00 Roberts Maine Grill and KPW Hospitality Tent our awesome sponsors Francis Ford Coppola, Stella, Absolut pour their libations while Robert’s Maine Grill serves up the best Chowder in the world! Fast becoming my favorite event of the fest…. this event is located on the Piscataqua River under a heated Sperry Tent on the Decks of Harbor Place

2:30 – 3:30 El Ambulante- Awesome foreign doc!/ American Animal- Really “out there” Independent feature film, weird but really good if you like this stuff/ SHORT BLOCK- Animation Block w/ bonus short doc Challenging Impossibility. The animation is awesome this year. Challenging Impossibility the story of Sri Chinmoy is a short doc about a Spiritual Leader who can lift more weight than the strongest men in the world.  He lifted all four wheels of a car off the ground at the age of 80!

4:45 Holly Rollers, TL… The story of a Christian Black Jack team that set out to beat the house based on a foundation of Christian trust…. Really cool film!

6:35 Short Block, TL…. This is the best short block of the fest which means these are some of the best shorts of the year both nationally and internationally, Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca award winners…. I love “I’m having a hard time killing my parents and all of these.

8:00 – 8:15 Terri TMH or Point Blank TL both of these films are amazing, go to whichever film you can’t see at another time during the fest (Both films play twice)…. for that matter I love Bucksville too!

10:00 Moet and Chandon Party at Surf Restaurant…. Join me at this can’t miss party at Portsmouth’s newest restaurant Surf.  I can’t see what they are going to do for this but I hear both the sponsors and Surf are going all out for this one.

SUNDAY – The Music Hall TMH, The Loft TL, Moffatt Ladd House MLH, Sheraton Amphitheater SA

All films at The Music Hall are amazing! So I will talk about where I would be if I were not at The Music Hall.- All films on Sunday are great! You can’t miss!- 11 – 2 pm VIP Brunch at the 100 Club. This is the best food event of the festival but you have to have a VIP ticket to attend.- 1:55 am How to Start a Revolution MLH… one of my favorites docs.- 3:35 pm Short Block TL … Amazing!- 5 pm Closing night reception.. At this point, if your anything like me, you will need some great food and a drink.- 5:30 pm Francis Ford Coppola Closing Night Ceremonies…. join me to find out who the award winners are.- 6:30 pm Puncture TMH this is one of the best films of the festival.

Zac’s Picks by Category


Marathon Boy – 4 year Indian slum boy who’d give Forrest a run for his money. (Friday Morning only- Don’t miss this film)

Holly Rollers – Christian Black Jack team aims to take down the casinos

Being Elmo- So good, not for children.  NH Filmmaker

When the Drum is Beating- Incredible story about Haiti and Music

How to Start a Revolution – You’d have to see it to understand it… Must see!


Kaziah, The Goat Woman- Inspirational story and woman

Sun City Picture House- Story of how a movie theater in Haiti gave hope to the hopeless

In Danger of Being Discovered

FEATURES (there is not a bad feature film in the bunch but these are my favorites in order)

Puncture – Chris Evans

Terri – John C. Reilly

Point Blank – Heart pounding suspense foreign film… so good!

Happy Happy/ 96 Minutes/ The Good Doctor – All very different and very good, read the program for more

Bucksville/ Cargo/ American Animal – same with these.


I’m Having a Hard Time Killing My Parents

Rough Skin


Strange Ones


Junkyard Jesus

Good Morning Beautiful

Every Short Block!

Dirty Night Clowns

Ex Sex

See you at the movies,