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NHFF Celebrations Begin at New Hampshire Night

The kick-off ceremony for the 16th Annual New Hampshire Film Festival began with the NH Night Welcome, at the Portsmouth Music Hall — a true treasure to the Portsmouth community. The Hall was bursting with life and creative hum as film lovers, actors, writers, directors, and friends from all over New England and beyond, ventured to experience the art living and thriving in New Hampshire.

Before the NH Night Welcome began, a reception catered by 2 Ceres Street was held in the lobby of the Music Hall, where Festival-goers were able to grab a drink and taste the infamous “small bites” from the Portsmouth haven. This venue where you’re surrounded by vibrant red carpet and burgundy walls covered with headlines — and, where one might say that the restrooms resemble a glamorous version of something out of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — it’s easy to see that the Portsmouth Music Hall houses the surplus of art in this unique town.

Stewart Mellentine Photogrpahy
Stewart Mellentine Photography
Stewart Mellentine Photography
Stewart Mellentine Photography

Into the NH Night Welcome, there was no shortage of life, love and creativity — all brought in light of the memorable Van McLeod as the NH Night Welcome ceremony began. The Van McLeod Award was established in 2008 and is awarded to New Hampshire film makers whom have made a significant contribution to the film industry. Van McLeod, who passed away earlier this year, dedicated his life to supporting the arts in New Hampshire, becoming a staple in the community.

To honor Van McLeod and the Van McLeod award, many of McLeod’s friends came together in the creation of a short film all sharing their favorite stories of McLeod, but also of the impact he made on them, individually, and in the New Hampshire community. There was not a dry eye in the audience as friends shared his story, both of laughter and sadness in memory of such a great supporter and friend, often called “Vantastic” and the “Match.com for film makers.” It was truly inspiring for the audience to see how much one man’s love of the arts and filmmaking could impact hundreds of lives.

It was also with great pleasure that this year’s Van McLeod award was given to his wife, Joan Goshgarian, and his daughter, Chelsea McLeod.

Stewart Mellentine Photography
Stewart Mellentine Photography
Stewart Mellentine Photography
Stewart Mellentine Photography

To conclude the evening, the audience celebrated the NH Public Television sponsored NH Night Awards and all of it’s recipients. Jurors of this year’s awards included:

Narrative Grand Jury: Tom Bergeron, the host for Dancing with the Stars, Matt Grady, the founder of Factory 25, and Sean McDonnell, the director of theatrical sales for A24 Films.

Documentary Grand Jury: Leigh Blickley, Senior Entertainment News Editor from the Huffington Post, Nick Camacho, the Director of Marketing at Oscilloscope Laboratories, and Caroline Von Kuhn, the Managing Director at Points North Institute.

New Hampshire Jury: Katie McQuaid Cote, a Columnist/Business Developer for the Union Leader, Ethan Gilsdorf, a journalist and film critic, and Michael Meek, the founder of newenglandfilm.com.

With no shortage of quality and talent, jurors reviewed a number of films leading into the NH Night Awards. It’s never an easy task, but we were so pleased to award those selected:

The 2016 Granny Winners:

A huge congratulations to all the NH Award Winners, and to all the films that were considered for this honor.

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