Screen time

New Hampshire Film Festival rolls out movie standouts and stars

October 12. 2016 12:47PM
A lonely man does battle with a relentless piece of music in “Earworm,” a short narrative directed by Tara Price. It will screen in Portsmouth during the New Hampshire Film Festival today at 8 p.m. at The Music Hall; Friday at 10:20 a.m. at The Music Hall Loft and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at The Moffatt Ladd House. 
If you go...
WHAT: New Hampshire Film Festival

WHERE: Various Portsmouth locations, including The Music Hall, The Music Hall Loft, 3S Artspace, Moffatt-Ladd House and Discover Portsmouth

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday

TICKETS: Single-day passes are $20 Thursday and $35 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Weekend pass is $75 and premium seating and admission to associated events is $200


The New Hampshire Film Festival (NHFF) will present the inaugural Pioneer in Filmmaking Award to Alysia Reiner, an actress and producer whose film “Equity” is headlining a jam-packed weekend theme celebrating successful women in the film industry.

Reiner, who’s most known for her role as Fig in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” will accept the award Saturday night prior to her film’s screening at 7:15 p.m. at The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth.

Founder of the production company Broad Street Pictures, Reiner wrote, produced and starred in “Equity,” which is about women on Wall Street. In addition to her film success, Reiner has been invited to The White House, The United Nations and Cannes Lion to speak about removing stereotypes from women and women in entrepreneurship.

“Alysia is breaking new ground and paving new paths for female-driven stories and roles,” said NHFF Executive Director Nicole Gregg. “This new award recognizes her amazing contributions to making women truly matter in the film industry.”

The festival will host a Women in Film panel at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Discover Portsmouth Center, 10 Middle St. Panelists will include Erin Trahan, editor of The Independent; actress, writer and producer Rae Dawn Chong; producer Kate Kaminski; actress, writer and producer Yolanda Ross; and Caroline Von Kuhn, managing director of Points North Institute.

Celebrity guest list

This year’s festival also will bring back actor John Michael Higgins (“Best in Show,” “Yes Man,” “Pitch Perfect” films and “Fred Claus”), as well as Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and author of “I’m Hosting as Fast as I Can! Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood”); Josh Meyer (Amazon series “Red Oak”); Chong (“Commando,” “The Color Purple,” “Soul Man,” and FX series “Better Things”); and actor, writer and comedian Josh Meyers (MADtv, “That 70s Show,” “The Mindy Project,” “The Awesomes,” and Sacha Baron Cohen’s film “Bruno”).

A highlight of this year’s film screenings will be the Granite State premiere of “God Knows Where I Am,” a documentary about the mysterious death of Linda Bishop, a woman whose body was found in an abandoned New Hampshire farmhouse, and whose death was far more complex than initially believed.

The feature documentary, which is one of nearly 100 films accepted into the 16th annual film festival, is the opening night film today at 8:05 p.m. at The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St. This slate of films will showcase filmmakers and projects with New Hampshire ties.

Diary of a death

“God Knows Where I Am is the story of a well-educated New Hampshire mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis. She was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Bishop was able to refuse treatment and medication and eventually procured an early, unconditional release, despite the lack of post-release planning.

Upon her release, she wandered 10 miles down the road from the hospital, broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived off of rainwater and apples picked from a nearby orchard for the next four months, through one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner and remained there, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Linda kept documenting her journey. It goes from poignant and beautiful to funny and deeply disturbing.

Directors Todd and Jedd Wider are expected to be on hand for the upcoming screening. Both say they are looking forward to sharing their project with festival-goers.

“My brother and I made ‘God Knows Where I Am’ to bring back some dignity to a woman who died so tragically, and in a way where much dignity was stripped away from her,” said Todd Wider. “Linda Bishop fell through the ever-porous cracks of our desperately failing mental health system and social services safety net. The tragedy of her fate speaks to our society’s inability to truly help those that cannot help themselves.”

Jedd Wider said the goal of the documentary is to not only shine a light on the story that led to Bishop’s tragic death, but also to give some credence to the challenges she faced as a person suffering from mental illness.

“(She) died alone, freezing, starving to death under a red blanket in an abandoned farmhouse,” said Jedd Wider. “Is it OK that we forget people like this? That they remain nameless? We want her death to have some meaning.”

Granite State ties

Screenings of other films with New Hampshire ties will include: “Chronic,” directed by Michel Franco; “Ma,” Celia Rowlson-Hall; “Poor Boy,” Robert Scott Wildes; “Food Fight — Inside the Battle for Market Basket,” Jay Childs; “Earworm,” Tara Price; “Fire,” Ben Silberfarb; “Split Ticket,” Alfred Thomas Catalfo; “Guided,” Bridget Besaw; “Murals of Belfast,” Ron Wyman; “The Portsmouth Project,” Rebecca Weinel; “A Day in the Life,” directed by Nick Edgar; “Answer,” John Morin, Grant Mangan, Nicola DiTomaso, Lubomir Rzepka; “Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes,” Tom Jennings; “CIT,” Cara Consilvio; “Confessions of a Cannabis Consultant,” Mark Dugas; “Crest of the Hill, Amanda Kowalski; “Extended Release,” Erica Tamposi, and “Ghost Trio,” Zach Warsavage.

That list also features “Girl in the Chair, M. Louis Gordon; “The Golden Age,” Justin Connor; “Hapless Halloween,” James Saxe; “HERE.,” Zachary Green; “Jack & Em,” Kaitlin Owens; “Love Bites,” Ryan Berry; “My Dark Side and My Light Side Meet in a Bar to Discuss the New Star Wars Movie,” Jeff Stern; “Namuli, Majka Burhardt; “On By,” Bill Pratt; “Pamoja,” Danielle Statuto; “The Poet,” Erin Enberg; “Protect the Bobcat: A New Hampshire Wildlife Story,” Brenda Olson and Jonathan Olson; “Rare in Common,” Alisa Shakarian and Marc Dole; “Seven Miles Out,” Wes Fisher; “Shadows Fall North,” Brian Vawter; “Signs of Love,” Alexander Keown; “Sketchy,” Taylor-Rae Lancaster, Lilia Ross and Sarah Ropple; “Sumner Winebaum: Working in Time,” CJ Lewis and Bill Humphreys; “Surfer Blood — “Point of No Return,” Jeremy Collins; “There Are No Brothers Here,” Emma Findlen LeBlanc; and “Threads That Bind Us,” Jason Santo.

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