NH Day & Night Starts New Hampshire Film Festival with Big Crowds and Awards
The first day of the New Hampshire Film Festival was packed with filmmakers, press, industry insiders and attendees from around the region and country. Thursday was New Hampshire Day, featuring all NH-affiliated films. New Hampshire Day kicked off with a sold out screening of De Rochemont: The Language of the News at the Music Hall Loft’s Access Sports Medicine Screening Room, and continued through the New Hampshire Night screening at the Music Hall Main Stage of Prince Avalanche, directed by David Gordon Green, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and produced by Lisa Muskat.
Lisa Muskat, a native of Manchester, NH, was presented with the Van McLeod Award for her outstanding contribution in film. Comedian Juston McKinney presented the award prior to the screening of Prince Avalanche. Muskat took the stage again following the film for a Q&A session with the crowd. Lisa Muskat’s first feature film as producer was David Gordon Green’s critically acclaimed debut film, George Washington. Along with her continued work with Green, Lisa has produced films with Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop), Gary Hawkins (The Rough South of Larry Brown), Arielle Javitch (Look, Stranger), Jeff Nichols (Shotugun Stories), Todd Rohal (Nature Calls) and Craig Zobel (Compliance), with premieres at Sundance, SXSW, Berlin, Toronto, Venice, and the Cannes film festivals. Lisa continued to collaborate with Green on Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and Joe, starring Tye Sheridan and Nicolas Cage. Lisa has teamed with Green and Chelsea Pictures on a number of highly acclaimed commercials, including Cannes winner Chrysler’s It’s Halftime in America, with Clint Eastwood, and the Obama campaign spot, For All. Lisa is the recipient of the Sundance Producing Fellowship and was named by Variety and Deadline Hollywood as a “Producer to Watch.” Prior to producing, Lisa taught at the North Carolina School for the Arts and holds a masters from UCLA’s School of Film and Television.
New Hampshire Night continued with the awards for the best New Hampshire films, performances and filmmakers. The recipients of the awards were as follows.
New Hampshire Short Film of the Year: Empyrean, an 18-minute short drama by NH native Sophia Savage, who was present to accept the award.
New Hampshire Performance of the Year: Morganna Ekkens, Only Daughter. Ekkens is a native of Keene, NH, and was present to accept her award.
New Hampshire Feature Film of the Year: Prince Avalanche, directed by David Gordon Green, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and produced by Lisa Muskat. Earlier in the evening, Lisa Muskat, a native of Manchester, was presented with the Van McLeod Award for her outstanding contribution in film.
New Hampshire Filmmaker of the Year: Aaron Weiderspahn, Only Daughter. Wiederspahn, who lives in Keene, NH, previously attended NHFF in 2007 with his film The Sensation of Sight, which won Best Feature Film. He was present to receive his award.
New Hampshire Documentary Film of the Year: Tom Rush: No Regrets. Tom Rush was not present to receive his award, but will be performing an intimate musical set on Sunday at 12:40 P.M. at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre’s KBW Financial Screening Room.
New Hampshire Film of the Year: Only Daughter. A gripping film about an 18-year-old girl and her journey to find her father, Only Daughter was filmed in 10 days, at 25 locations around Clairemont, NH. The film was made for $20,000, and was entirely crowd funded. Only Daughter was written and directed by Aaron Wiederspahn, who also starred in the film. The film was produced by Aaron Wiederspahn, Laina Barakat, Sarah Steinberg Heller and Karlina Lyons. Starring in the film alongside Wiederspahn were Emily Seymour, Dakota Benedetto and Morganna Ekkens.
“This film is a true testament to what can happen when people come together,” said Weiderspahn, who credited the film’s success to the incredible collaboration of the cast and crew. Only Daughter will play again on Sunday, at 2:40 P.M. at The Seacoast Repertory Theatre’s KBW Financial Screening Room.