The More Things Change – New Hampshire Film Festival 2022
There are thousands of film festivals all over the world. Almost every major city has at least one (we’re based in Massachusetts and Boston has at least two big ones; the Boston Film Festival and Boston Underground Film Festival). When we started FilmSnobbery back in 2009 there were a handful of film festivals we covered in New England because they were easy to get to and we could cover them in a cost-effective manner (i.e. we didn’t have to pay for a hotel or plane ticket). The New Hampshire Film Festival in downtown Portsmouth was one of those first festivals we put our energy into covering. It was a wonderful experience and helped to set the tone and expectations of future film festival coverage we would do over the next decade.
Now in their 20th year, the NHFF is back after a couple years off (COVID) and they don’t appear to have skipped a beat. I arrived at the red carpet a little later than expected because of traffic, but what I saw was classic New Hampshire Film Festival. Folks lining up to get their pictures taken, smiles all around, and a party atmosphere that made everyone feel welcome.
The New Hampshire Film Festival does right what other festivals struggle to do and pulls it off effortlessly. They involve the entire town in their fest and makes every location they inhabit feel like an extension to the festivities.
Their film selections are unique, with most titles in their roster this year not in the usual festival rotation (at least at a cursory glance) at other fests we’ve seen promotions for. That isn’t a knock on the quality of films, which so far have been stellar. They have a nice balance of shorts blocks and engaging features that will satisfy even the most discerning film tastes. They could do with some more diverse panels, but I will give them credit for putting the spotlight on student filmmakers.
The Music Hall theater is their main screening venue, but they also have several other places that are showing films through the four-day event. They also have a few panels and workshops scattered throughout, capping off each night with a raucous after-party where every guest feels like a VIP.
I’ve said it in years past, and I’ll reiterate it for those in the back, but this sleeper festival (and Oscar qualifier for short films) is easily a contender for “the Sundance of the Northeast” title.