The 19th annual New Hampshire Film Festival is hitting Portsmouth this week. The festival combines independent film screenings, panel discussions, virtual reality experiences and networking parties for a full, four-day cinematic experience Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20.
Here’s our frequently asked questions guide to the popular event:
Is the event open to the public, or is it just for filmmakers?
The festival is open to the public. Anyone who enjoys film is encouraged to attend.
Is there a main office where I can get information during the weekend?
Discover Portsmouth Center, 10 Middle St., serves as the festival’s headquarters and will have a virtual reality experience at specific times during the festival.
How many films are set to screen?
There are 117 independent films including short films (shown in blocks), feature-length narratives and feature-length documentaries. Some films play more than once, so check the schedule to plan your screenings accordingly.
Where are the films being screened?
There are five venues: The Music Hall at 28 Chestnut St.; The Loft at 131 Congress St.; Moffatt-Ladd House at 154 Market St.; 3S Artspace at 319 Vaughan St. and The Press Room at 77 Daniel St.
What should I expect?
A plethora of independent films, learn about filmmakers inspirations and the filmmaking process, and have a great time.
Last years total attendance was estimated at more than 10,000. Be prepared with snacks, water and some patience for your fellow filmgoers, Seacoast visitors and residents.
If you’re visiting from outside the Seacoast, it’s good to know Portsmouth is a walking city and there are many things to see outside of the screening sessions. Wear comfortable shoes, layer up and allow time to browse the different shops, eat at the variety of restaurants and take in the seaside.
What are some of the most highly anticipated movies coming to this year’s festival?
Adam Sandlers new movie, Uncut Gems, which just screened at the Telluride Film Festival, plays Friday night. Robert Eggers new film, The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, is set for Saturday night. A timely topic, Like, is a feature documentary about the influence of social media and technology on our lives. The film is showing Sunday with a post-screening question-and-answer session.
Do screenings sell out during the weekend?
For especially sought-after films or time slots (Friday and Saturday nights tend to be the most popular), venues may be at capacity and unable to accommodate any more attendees at that show. There are usually other films playing around the same time, so you wont miss out on an opportunity to see a great movie.
Are there other events happening outside of film screenings?
There are many panel discussions with industry professionals, award presentations, ceremonies, a Young Filmmakers Workshop, parties and virtual reality experience opportunities.
Panel discussions include: The State of Filmmaking in N.H.: A Roundtable Discussion; Filmmakers Journey; the annual Comedy Panel, moderated by Greg and the Morning Buzz host Greg Kretschmar; the Industry Insiders Panel: Content, Creation and Consumption and How Branded Entertainment is Playing a Major Role in the Film and Television Industry; and a Coffee Block where you can interact with experienced filmmakers in a less formal setting with coffee and doughnuts.
Awards and ceremonies happen on almost every day of the festival. There is a welcome reception as well as awards night events specific to New Hampshire Night on Thursday, which will feature presentation of the Van McLeod Award. A red-carpet gala leads into the annual opening night ceremonies Friday. Sunday ends the weekend with the presentation of festival awards and closing night ceremonies.
Pre- and post-parties will be held throughout the weekend. Some are limited to VIP pass holders, so check your access before you go. Party locations include: Flatbread Co. Portsmouth at 138 Congress St.; The Gas Light Co. at 64 Market St.; Rudis at 20 High St. and One Hundred Club at100 Market St., No. 500.
Is there anything new this year?
The newly renovated and re-opened Press Room on Daniel Street is a new screening location this year.
As an additional technique to facilitate filmmaker-audience interaction, festival organizers are using video conferencing software to expand the opportunity for discussions with industry experts, even if they cannot be at the festival in-person.
Where should I park?
Visit cityofportsmouth.com/publicworks/parkportsmouth to pick the best spot for your plans. The festival venues are all a short walking distance from each other, so you should only have to park once a day.
How do I purchase tickets?
There are three pass options: VIP passes provide priority access to all screenings, along with access to parties, events, and ceremonies and cost $225 for the entire weekend; weekend passes provide access to all screenings, ceremonies and events (except for the VIP brunch) for the entire weekend at $100; individual day passes are available with varied access respective to the day, and range from $25 to $40. All screening seating is subject to availability, so get in line early.
Where should I eat?
There are a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries downtown, ready to serve a relaxing sit-down dinner or shoot you a quick energy boost between screenings. Visit nhfilmfestival.com/where-to-stay-eat-drink for suggestions.
Where should I stay?
There are many hotels and bed and breakfast options in and around the Portsmouth. Visit nhfilmfestival.com/where-to-stay-eat-drink for suggestions and call the location for availability.
How do I keep track of everything?
Download the festival app to your phone. When you select your choice of movie or event, the app will send you a reminder, so you dont miss anything youve planned. If you prefer to speak with someone, swing by the Portsmouth Discovery Center for schedules and information during the festival. For more information or to purchase passes, visit nhfilmfestival.com.