I have the best NH Film Festival job in the world. I am married to the smart and beautiful Executive Director, Nicole Gregg. Although that should be enough it comes with even more perks…besides my title of Chairman of the Board, I get to assist Programming Director Nicole Galovski by watching every last film that is either on the fence or accepted into the festival. Which makes me the only person other than Nicole Gski that has screened the unbelievable slate of films which make up the 2012 NH Film Festival.
I like to sum up the festival every year with “Zac’s Picks” – a write-up intended to steer you away from losing an hour and a half of your life on a film I could have told you you wouldn’t like. But this year I am proud to say you should watch them all….every last film is amazing! Of course, there are some films and events you just can’t miss and that’s what I’m about to lay out for you.
NEW HEADQUARTERS: THE DISCOVER PORTSMOUTH CENTER (the corner of Middle, Islington & Congress, across from Jumpin’ Jay’s and the Health Food Store) Start your festival experience here by grabbing a festival program guide, buying some cool festival swag (t-shirts and hats) and talking to our staff.
SHORT FILMS – AN OVERVIEW:
The Short Films this year are all amazing and cover varying subject material within each block. Many of this year’s selections played at Sundance, SXSW, Toronto and beyond. Make sure you pick a block, particularly the one with 92 Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card or Under and enjoy. These little bites of filmmaking are my favorite part of a film festival. Short films you will never see on PayPerView and will blow your mind.
Thursday is New Hampshire Day and Night – every film has a NH affiliation. This means the filmmaker, writer, producer, director or lead actor is from the Granite State, or a significant amount of the film has been shot here.
We are proud to say the NH roots are so deep this year that, for the first time ever, NH Day and Night needed two venues. Even with two venues, many great NH films did not make the cut.
As always, the main Thursday venue is The Music Hall where you can view films on the Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage. Our additional Thursday venue this year is The Music Hall Loft’s Access Sports Medicine Screening Room (which is right around the corner at 131 Congress St.).
11:50 a.m. – The Music Hall Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage
The World According to Irving, a documentary about NH’s own John Irving.
11:55 a.m. – The Music Hall Loft’s Access Sports Medicine Screening Room
Who Cares about Kelsey is an introspective on Kelsey, a troubled girl from Somersworth High School, who against all odds finds success in a world stacked against her. By NHFF Alumni Dan Habib.
1:45 p.m. – The Music Hall Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage
Love Free or Die Is about NH’s gay Episcopalian priest and has been a significant film on the festival circuit in 2012. We are proud to have it playing here.
3:15 p.m. – The Music Hall Loft’s Access Sports Medicine Screening Room
Slipping: Skate’s Impact on Egypt is an amazing documentary about how a skateboard shop in Egypt turns into a unique view of the Arab Spring. It turns out to be an awesome combination and is done by a NH Filmmaker (plays again later in the festival if you miss it on Thursday).
4:50 p.m. – The Music Hall Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage
In Danger of Being Discovered – This might be the film of the day. If you are into music, this film covers the 90’s music scene in the Seacoast and NH in a style and with a quality that would make it pertinent to documentary enthusiasts anywhere in the world. MUST SEE (plays again later in the festival if you miss it on Thursday).
6:00 p.m. – The Music Hall Loft’s Access Sports Medicine Screening Room
3 Days of Normal – This is only the second Feature Film ever played on NH Day and Night and there is a reason. It is well worth the time it takes up in our schedule. Jace Mclean from Dublin, NH is the lead and also a producer in this fun film about the worlds of a small town cop and a Hollywood starlet colliding in rural New Hampshire. MUST SEE (plays again later in the festival if you miss it on Thursday).
6:15 p.m. – The Music Hall Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage
This Short Films block is the best of the day.
8:10 p.m. – The Music Hall Francis Ford Coppola Winery Main Stage
Certainty is the Mike O’Malley film Thursday night feature. Don’t miss it.
7:50 p.m. – Midnight – The Music Hall and Flatbread Co.
Join us for The Van McLeod Award! The Thursday Night Feature written by Mike O’Malley from Glee (Who will be in attendance)! The NH Award Presentations! And the Flatbread Co. and NH Film & TV Office NH Night Party until midnight!
On Friday, you can expect some quirky docs showing at the Moffatt-Ladd House Provident Bank Screening Room. Here are the ones I loved:
12:00 p.m. – Wild Bill’s Run – About a snowmobile expedition from Minnesota to Moscow by a one in a million character Wild Bill. Only at a film festival will you see a doc about a subject like this.
1:20 p.m. The Cardboard Bernini – This is one of the most amazing art films I have ever seen about a world-class artist whose accolades run far and deep. But this story about one of his last installations is one for the record books. The artist and filmmaker will be in attendance and this will be a World Premiere!
4:35 p.m. In Organic We Trust– OK so I’ve already said this but maybe this is my favorite Doc in the fest. Made by a gritty filmmaker who asks the question… What the hell does Organic mean if the biggest farms in america are now organic. the answer: It means you can pay to be organic, and much much more. This film is so well done and a top 4 Doc …MUST SEE!
4:55 p.m. Milk? – One man loves milk, one man loves raw milk, one man hates milk…the government gets involved in choosing winners and losers. See how it unfolds! MUST SEE!
6:20 p.m. Code Of the West – Medical Marijuana in Montana goes beyond the world of medicine. The conservatives go mad, the marijuana advocates lose their rights…politics and marijuana policy clash. Unbelievably well done documentary.
Read the write-ups on nhfilmfestival.com or in the program but these are all worth going to. You won’t be disappointed!
12:55 p.m. – The Music Hall
Hello I Must Be Going – A really well done family drama with Blythe Danner. One of the best films of the festival. A little too drama-ee for me although I was super engaged.
2:50 p.m. – The Music Hall
Nobody Walks – Awesome indie film; can’t wait to see it again.
4:30 p.m. – The Music Hall
Collaborator – David Morse playing Robert Longfellow a playwrite whose filmed just bombed. Robert gets kidnapped and an awesome comedic drama ensues. MUST SEE!
6:20 p.m. – The Music Hall
The Story of Luke – I loved this film but it is definitely quirky. If you like independent films or Seth Green you will love this film.
6:30 p.m. – The Music Hall Loft
Missed Connections – This is a guys’ comedy. So funny and so indie…I loved this film.
8:25 p.m. – The Music Hall
Celeste and Jesse Forever – Opening night film and might be the best film in the festival! Stars and was co-written by Rashida Jones from The Office and Parks & Rec. (Shows again on Sunday night if you miss it on Friday.)
8:35 p.m. – The Music Hall Loft
28 Hotel Rooms – Really well done. Might be the sexiest film in the festival. This film will be a hit in Hollywood soon so check it out now. Not for kids.
7:10 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – The Music Hall
Opening Night Reception, Ceremonies and Opening Night Feature Film Celeste and Jesse Forever featuring and co-written by Rashida Jones from The Office and Parks & Rec. MUST SEE!
10:00 p.m. – Midnight – Portsmouth Gas Light Third Floor Night Club
Absolut Vodka Portsmouth Gas Light Friday Night After Party! This party blows the doors off! Come party with the celebs and industry guests at this MUST DO event!
2:35 p.m. Special Screening at The Music Hall Loft
Up in Smoke with Tommy Chong in attendence. I guarantee you have never seen this film with Tommy Chong. This is about as cool as it gets!
10:10 a.m. – The Moffatt-Ladd House
The Magic Life – This is not the best doc in the festival by any means, but every film is so good! If you like magic or have a child you want to inspire, this is the film.
11:00 a.m. – The Music Hall
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare – Want to know where the future of the health care system in the US is going? WATCH THIS FILM. Best documentary in the festival! I cannot say enough about how well done this film is.
12:30 p.m. – The Seacoast Repertory Theatre KBW Financial Screening Room
Bottled Life – Another one of my top 4 must see films. Much of this film was shot in Fryeburg, Maine, but this film is not about Maine. It’s about water, plastic, Nestle’s goals for world domination, politics and much, much more. WATCH THIS FILM!
12:30 p.m. – The Music Hall Loft
A Whisper to a Roar – This film makes me angry and happy at the same time. The demise of authoritarian regimes, the uprising of democracies, the changes that are taking place globally…this film tackles it all and is awesome and informative! It’s just a tad too long but don’t let that stop you if you want to be enlightened about what’s going on in the world.
3:25 p.m. – The Moffatt-Ladd House
American Autumn: an Occudoc – I’m not a fan of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but if you want answers and you want to see an amazingly well-done documentary this is a great film.
5:00 p.m. – The Moffatt-Ladd House
Milk? – Refer to my Friday write up of this film. One of my top 4 must see docs!
1:00 p.m. – The Music Hall
The Last Day of August – A recently paralyzed 20-something from New York needs to extricate himself from his relationship to sort it out on his own. He finds new friendships but falls victim to a destructive lifestyle. This film is what film festivals are all about. Some of the cast and crew will be in attendance.
3:10 p.m. – The Music Hall
Like the Water – If you are a woman from New England (or in a relationship with a woman), go to this film. This is an amazing story of a group of friends reunited when one member of their group dies. Each successful in their own right, they come back to Camden, Maine to mourn the loss and attend a funeral. Much of the cast will be in attendance and many are well-known including Caitlin Fitzgerald, who will win you over with her performance. Please go to this movie.
6:45 p.m. – The Music Hall
Fairhaven – This is an amazing must-see film. The director will be in attendance. Easily one of the top five feature films in the festival!
8:30 p.m. – The Music Hall
Girls Against Boys – Director Austin Chick, originally from Bedford, NH and now a complete Hollywood stud, hits it out of the park with this film. Not for the faint of heart. A badass Thelma and Louise that men might like viewing more than women. Watch this film! Another of my top 5 (but not for everyone).
4:30 p.m. – Seacoast Repertory Theatre
Quartet – Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut! This film is huge and we are lucky to have it in the festival. Although it’s not my cup of tea, my Mom and Dad would love it.
6:40 p.m. – Seacoast Repertory Theatre
Deadfall – This film features actors Olivia Wilde, Sissy Spacek, Eric Bana, Kris Kristofferson. It feels like a Hollywood thriller. If you are looking for a MOVIE not a FILM this is awesome, seat-gripping stuff.
8:35 p.m. – Seacoast Repertory Theatre
28 Hotel Rooms – See my review from Friday.
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – The Robert’s Maine Grill Hospitality Tent at One Harbour Place
Don’t miss this Chowder and Booze event under a beautiful Sperry tent with all of our liquor and beer sponsors. This event is a CAN’T MISS.
10:00 p.m. – Midnight – The Inaugural Moët & Chandon After Party at Martingale Wharf
OK, this might be the event of the year! Held at Surf last year, this event was so popular we had a line around the block. All the celebs will be out, as well as all the sponsors, all the industry peeps and the entire NHFF crew. Come party with us!
10:45 a.m. Special Screening at The Music Hall
Kids Block: Hotel Transylvania – Adam Sandler was nice enough to allow us to screen this hollywood blockbuster. Perfect for Halloween and for families, but this is also a festival treat for adults.
7:15 p.m. Closing Night Feature at The Music Hall
Celeste and Jesse Forever – See my write-up from Friday.
By now I have reviewed most of the films in the above days.
9:45 a.m. – Moffatt-Ladd House
Four Horsemen – Want to know how the world really works, politics, money, etc.? Why Wall Street is allowed to do what it does in the wake of the financial disaster it created and how it affects the world? This is your film. Smartly done; you will never look at the world we live in the same again. A must see film!
2:40 p.m. – The Music Hall
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. Again, this is one of my top four docs of the festival and possibly my favorite.
I’ve said all I can say in my reviews above. All these Features have already played once during the festival.
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – The Left Bank Films One Hundred Club VIP Brunch
This is an exclusive brunch gathering for VIP, Artist and Industry Pass holders, but is bar none the best event of the festival. Eat and drink on us with the best views of Portsmouth from the highest point in the city. You have to be a VIP to attend, but this brunch makes it worth it! The 100 Club is the classiest and best restaurant in the Seacoast and is normally open to members only…and to VIP festival-goers on Sunday morning.
5:40 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Francis Ford Coppola Winery Closing Night Ceremonies and Reception at The Music Hall
See what films won the big awards, eat and drink at the catered reception, watch the Young Filmmakers production and much more at this can’t-miss culmination event.
In closing, this is the best year ever. Come to as much as you can. Eat and stay at the restaurants and hotels who sponsor us. Grab a festival program guide at the Discover Portsmouth Center (our new HQ). I look forward to seeing you at the movies.