The Godfather Effect




You know your film festival is on the map when Francis Ford Coppola attends, even if only in spirit form.Anyone paying attention to the Seacoast scene will notice a lot more well-tanned folks around the gallery openings than usual, even for ├╝ber-hip Portsmouth. And eavesdropping at Jumpin' Jays or the Press Room, they may encounter jargon like "aspect ratio," "focal length" and "drinks after the wrap."

If it sometimes seems like Hollywood has created a satellite studio on the banks of the Piscataqua, it's because, for all practical purposes, it has. And the credit for this goes in no small part to a little film festival that was started 10 years ago this October.

As the New Hampshire Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, it has a lot to reflect upon. The Granite State has scored a few big hits in the movie industry over the past century of filmmaking, but never before has there been such a bona fide film community as now, and the pivotal event for the legions of producers, writers, actors and grips is this long weekend filled with previews of major independent films - many with local talent - and boisterous "after-the-wrap-style" nightlife.

This year the festival will open with the twisted comedy "The Extra Man," starring Kevin Kline, Katy Holmes and John C. Reilly and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulchini - who also directed indy fave "American Splendor."

But when you evaluate a film festival, a factor every bit as notable as the films on the screen is the logos on the poster, and the NHFF has earned a national sponsor whose very name stands for great film.

The Francis Ford Coppola Winery signed on as a lead sponsor for the event, quickly followed by Absolute Vodka and Stella Artois - a kind of holy trinity of cool adult beverages.

NHFF Director Nicole Gregg says the weekend offers too many highlights to single out one, but says not to miss the kick-off party on Friday at the Portsmouth Gas Light and to be sure to see the top local films running all day on Thursday.

"The local competition has grown beyond all expectations," she says. "Up from a dozen films when we started to more than 50 New Hampshire-affiliated films."

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