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New Hampshire Night Ignites the Celebrations for 17th Annual New Hampshire Film Festival

Aaron Wiederspahn accepting the Van McLeod Award

New Hampshire Day came to a close at The Music Hall Thursday night that began with a reception catered by 2 Ceres, the presentation of the honorable Van McLeod Award, the NHFF first premiered featured film And Then I Go, which was followed by the NHPTV awards.

The Boston Globe calls The Music Hall “the beating cultural heart of New Hampshire’s seacoast,” which is no surprise seeing that the hall brings celebrities and travelers from all over the world to enjoy the mystical architecture and award-winning presentations. The Music Hall is the perfect location to kick off the first night celebrations, bringing yet again celebrities, travelers, locals and all creative types together.

As attendees filed into the hall, Dan Hannon, the Co-Founder of NHFF, took the stage to welcome the audience, thank the festival sponsors and volunteers who help run the festival, and introduce Van McLeod’s wife and best friend, Joan Goshgarian to present the Van McLeod Award.

This highly honored award holds the love and spark of the beloved Van McLeod, a staple in the creative New Hampshire community, who passed away last year. McLeod was the pillar to many filmmakers as they learned to find their own creative voice. The award, which was first established in 2008, is given to the individual who has made the biggest impact on the creative community. This year, the honor was awarded to Aaron J. Wiederspahn, a writer director and producer.

When accepting the award, Wiederspahn choked up saying, “I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry, but as great as getting an Oscar would be, I don’t know who the h** Ocsar is…I knew Van, I knew Van very well. This award means everything.”

After visiting NH during a trip years ago, Van introduced Wiederspahn to the entire creative network of NH. He said, “Van introduced me to the whole world…he is significant to my career.”

And Then I Go
And Then I Go

Wiederspahn was also the Executive Producer of the Thursday night feature And Then I Gowhich is now being shown all over the world. The 99 minute drama was directed by Vincent Grashaw, produced by Laura D. Smith and Rebecca Green, written by Brett Haley and Jim Shepard, and starred Arman Darbo, Sawyer Barth, Melanie Lynskey, Justin Long, Tony Hale, Carrie Preston, Melonie Diaz, Royalty Hightower, Michael Abbott Jr., and Sean Bridgers.

And Then I Go is a heavy narrative based on the novel Project X, written by acclaimed author Jim Sheppard. The film follows the lives of middle school teens who are misunderstood by their parents, are tormented by bullies, and struggle with anxiety. In a feat to control their lives and seek revenge from their taunters, the teens, Edwin and his best friend Flake, plan a horrific event.

Hands flew up in response to the chilling and powerful film. Wiederspahn explained that the narrative was created to “humanize horror.” He said, “There’s no easy way to have these conversations, the one common thread to talk about tough topics is to look at the human condition.”

Following the film, the award recipients for the NH Night Award were announced, which was sponsored by New Hampshire Public Television (NHPTV).

 

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.

And the 2017 NH Night Award Winners are…

NH Film of the Year: Winter’s Watch 

NH Filmmaker of the Year: Michael Venn

Best NH Feature Narrative: And Then I Go

Best NH Feature Documentary: The Mars Generation

Best NH Short Narrative: The Privates 

Best NH Short Documentary:  No. 7 on the List

Best NH Performance: Chelsea Hermann, Texture

Congratulations to all of the award NH Award Winner recipients as well as to those considered for each category!

By Samantha Granville

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