Dear New Hampshire Film Festival Family:
As we embark on the 22nd festival edition, I have some exciting news and updates to share. Planning for this year’s festival is well under way, Call for Submissions is open, and I’m eagerly anticipating what will surely be the best year to date. Maybe even more eagerly than usual — because this year I’m thrilled to announce that The Music Hall is taking NHFF under their organizational umbrella.
The transition to The Music Hall means I will officially step back from my role as Executive Director. Tina Sawtelle and her amazing team at The Music Hall will step in, and if her brilliant leadership of The Music Hall is any indication, she will shepherd NHFF into an even brighter future. I will not be going far. I have a new role with the festival working on strategic partnerships and initiatives. As the Founding Director, I will continue to provide guidance and continuity as needed. The majority of our festival team will continue on as well. My new role will allow me the family and personal time I’ve been craving after 20+ years at the helm, while maintaining the opportunity to stay involved in a limited capacity.
Many of you knew that last year’s 2023 Festival was a pilot-partnership between NHFF and The Music Hall.
We wanted to make sure it was a good fit. The Music Hall got to see what our festival community already knew. There were inspiring films, jaw-dropping venues, educational workshops, industry panels, awards ceremonies, special events, young filmmakers, and of course the after-parties. Our 20+ years of building a community of fans, filmmakers, industry professionals and volunteers around this amazing city NHFF calls home, was on full display. The entire festival experience was and always will be something to behold. The feedback was overwhelming, the validation was ever-present and it was clear to all who attended, 2023 was the best festival yet.
The Music Hall team, from board members to staff, shared in the festivities and embraced the opportunity whole-heartedly. At the conclusion of the event they were convinced and prepared to officially take NHFF under their umbrella. Now, with the backing of a year-round team, the resources and experience of an incredible institution and the longest-operating theater in New Hampshire, I’m proud to announce NHFF's new home: The Music Hall. It goes without being said, this incredible milestone would not have been possible without all of you.
So what does this all mean?
NHFF joins an institution with resources including a full-time staff, professional leadership and New Hampshire’s most stunning performance venues. NHFF is better positioned for long term success gaining instant experience and credibility. With their industry connections, NHFF programming will achieve new heights. With their marketing reach
NHFF will grow its worldwide audience. They will be able to offer more timely information at every step of the way. With their sophisticated ticketing and service technologies NHFF will garner better insights into the films, the times, the venues, the hospitality, the merchandise and the experiences that NHFF audiences prefer. Most importantly their abundant resources means they will be able to expand on the mission of the festival and grow NHFF’s impact on film and filmmaking locally and nationally. I truly cannot wait to see what comes next.
This said, nothing will ever change the history and legacy we’ve built together as an NHFF family. My role with the festival over the past 20+ years has been one of the greatest and most rewarding honors of my life. I’ve been privileged to watch, share, and celebrate some of the most extraordinarily thought-provoking stories of my lifetime while bringing together a community to share in the magic of movies with thousands of attendees and artists from around the world — and to do it right here in Portsmouth, the most special place in the world.
We’ve accomplished so many wonderful milestones on this journey. NHFF has become an Academy Award qualifying festival in multiple categories. We’ve grown our film submissions from less than 100 films when I started to over 2,000 films in 2023. We’ve added awards, in particular the Van Mcleod Award which means so much to all of us. We’ve highlighted Oscar-winning films before anyone knew what they were. We’ve attracted celebrities and filmmakers that otherwise never would have seen our city or visited New Hampshire. We’ve been supported by both major industry sponsors and committed local sponsors. We’ve attracted some of the most prestigious distributors and industry professionals in the business. We’ve cultivated a community and platform for national, international and New Hampshire filmmakers to create and share their works in front of the best audiences, inside of the most amazing venues, year after year. We even survived Covid!
We truly are a family.
NHFF wouldn’t be here without the help, support, faith, inspiration, and sheer effort and determination of literally too many people to list here. I’m going to list a lot of them anyway, because they deserve their names to be recognized as part of an institution that has become part of the fabric of the “arts” in New Hampshire, New England, and the international film festival circuit. But first I need to say a word of special thanks to our incredible festival team. I’ve had the honor to work alongside some of the best and most giving human beings I could imagine. Dan Hannon, Ian McCarthy, Carrie Forbes, Nick Edgar, Carol Healy, and John Herman, you made this thing happen no matter where you were in your personal lives. Behind the scenes you made this festival so much fun to work on, and you rode this journey out through and through no matter what. I will never forget how much hard work, generosity, love and laughter you provided. To my family, there are no words. Zac, you believed in me and kept me going every step of the way. Talula and Ranger you will likely never understand the sacrifices you made in making my dreams become a reality. To
my extended family and my friends, there is not enough gratitude in the world for all of the support you provided.
I will always be eternally grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you all for the ride of a lifetime, the countless memories and endless inspiration. I am so grateful and excited to see where the leadership of The Music Hall takes NHFF next and I can’t wait to see you all at the movies next fall!
With sincere gratitude,
It is impossible to acknowledge all of the people and companies who contributed to our success over the 20 plus years of NHFF. Below is a list of many of the notable contributors (that I could remember), that made this all possible... THANK YOU!
Festival Staff, Board, & Volunteers
(past, present, and current)
Phil Case Cohen
Some of our Notable Filmmakers/Artists/Writers/Producers in Attendance
Patrick Creadon, IOUSA 2008, If You Build It (Wordplay)
Ross Kauffman, the E-Team (Born into Brothels)
Joyce Maynard, author, Labor Day
Andy Robin and Gregg Kavet, Live Free or Die
Caroline Von Kuhn, Like the Water
Michael Almereyda, Marjorie Prime, Seasons of MacDowell
Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert, A Lion in the House, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant, and (MacDowell Fellows)
Brant Sersen, Splinterheads
Ben Nabors, William and the WindMill
Nathan Silver, Thirst Street
Adrian Grenier, Teenage Paparazzo
Michael Barnett, Superheroes, Becoming Bulletproof, Changing the Game
Bryan Storkel, Holy Rollers, Fight Church
Meryl Goldsmith The Syndrome, Love Gilda
Paco Velez, The Reagan Show
Ron Yassen Lauren Griswold, Cross Roads
Matt Renner producer National Geographic Films, The Cave, Free Solo
Michelle MacLaren, Director/Producer Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones,
Elegance Bratton and Chester Algernal, Pier Kids
Robert Eggers, The Witch, The Lighthouse- NH
Austin Chick, August, Girls Against Boys-NH
Aaron Weiderspahn, The Sensation of Sight, Only Daughter-NH
Julian Higgins, God’s Country, Jury Member-NH
Chris Stinson and Amy Green, producers Low Down, Woodshock-NH
Dan Kennedy, Caroline Keene, Merry Good Enough-NH
Dan Eckman, Mystery Team-NH
Chase Bailey, producer, Drunkboat, The Libertine, The Life Before her Eyes-NH
Some of our Notable Celebrity Guests, Panelists &
Ted and Vanessa Hope
Rae Dawn Chong
John Michael Higgins
Some of our Notable Filmmakers and Films screened
Jason Reitman Men Women and Children, Labor Day
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Brad Anderson, Transiberian
Wim Wenders, Perfect Days
Todd Solondz, Weiner-Dog
Sean and Andrea Fine, War/Dance, Life According to Sam
Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Lauren Greenfield, Kids and Money
Laura Poitras, The Oath
Rory Kennedy, Last Days in Vietnam
Some of our Notable Industry Partners
Seed & Spark:
Mark Urman- Paladin
Tribeca Film Festival:
Camden Film Festival:
Some of our Notable Vendors & Venues
The Music Hall
Moffatt Ladd House
The Press Room
The Hilton Garden Inn
The Hampton Inn
C&J Bus Lines
Discover Portsmouth Center
City of Portsmouth
Some of our Notable Sponsors
Portsmouth Chevy and Key Auto Group
Bank W Staffing
Access Sports Medicine
Francis Ford Coppola Wines
Access Sports Medicine
Construction Services of NH
Natural Rocks Ice Co.
Four Tree Island
Monkey Mind Escape Rooms
Green & Co.
Northwoods Brewing Company
Some of our Notable Super Fans
Jim Houghton - Most films attended
Suzanne Bressette - First Tickets Purchased
Bob Marchewka - First Tickets Purchased
Jason Kroll - Most employees benefited from sponsorship
Bob and Pat Lanciani- some of our first attendees turned filmmakers
Jude Blake- NHFF cheerleader
Sally and David Mulhern- best dressed red carpet attendees
Some of our Notable NH Film Community
Robert Scott Wildes
Mark and Bethany Constance
Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Rae Dawn Chong
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