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NHFF Opening Ceremonies

As if we weren’t already in full festival mode, NHFF’s Red Carpet Gala and Opening Ceremonies really kicked this weekend’s film festivities up a notch!

Red Carpet Gala

The Red Carpet Opening Night Reception drew hundreds, including John Michael Higgins, Juston McKinney, and director Joe Stephenson and actor Scott Chambers, both of the film Chicken, which is making its U.S. premiere at the festival Saturday. Chicken had its world premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, where it received high praise from many including Sir Ian McKellan, who is working with Stephenson on his next project. Chicken is expected to be a breakout film for both Stephenson and Chambers. Join us for the U.S. premiere of  Chicken— Saturday at 5:25 p.m. at The Music Hall, followed by a Q&A with Stephenson and Chambers.

To open the event, some of our longtime friends made a special call in to wish us a happy 15th year—check it out!

NHFF executive director Nicole Gregg welcomed the crowd to the 15th year of the festival, followed by Juston McKinneyJuston McKinney, who warmed up the crowd with some jokes “to get you in the mood to watch a movie about torture,” he said, referring to Experimenter, the evening’s spotlight film starring Winona Ryder and Peter Saarsgard. Experimenter’s writer and director Michael Almereyda worked with Gregg years ago, she said, when she was an intern in the film industry in New York City. She said it was special for her that his film was the opening night film on the 15th year of the festival.

Also taking the stage before Experimenter was John Michael Higgins, who expressed that film festivals were the real deal — a chance to see independent film, not created to please algorithms and market research.

John Herman, director of the Young Filmmakers Workshop, introduced the group of young filmmakers who would be participating in this year’s workshop. The high school-aged filmmakers will hear from guest speakers, team up and will script, shoot and ultimately screen four short films over the weekend. Their films will premiere at Sunday night’s Closing Night Ceremony.

Another day in the books for NHFF 2015! For more fun, don’t miss tomorrow’s Comedy Panel, starting at 11am at the Discover Portsmouth Center. Check out the NHFF event schedule for a complete list of the rest of the weekend’s films.

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