Friday, May 31, 2013


Mikey tells the unsettling story of a guy with emotional and social difficulties who becomes obsessed with a singer. He decides to give her an awkward gift to win her heart, but with no idea how she'll receive it. Find out what happens next in this 20-minute student short.

Filmmaker Jaco Dukes is originally from Chile but now resides in Southern California. You can watch the trailer here:

Sunday, May 26, 2013


In this coming of age drama by Brooklyn filmmaker Patrick Mandeville, a young man's self-esteem problem leads him to join the Army in order to please his father. After becoming a prisoner of war, he begins to flip a coin and tally heads and tails. This seemingly random game of chance leads to his complete reappraisal of this life: he begins to reconsider his philosophy and the personal choices that lead to his strained relationships with his father and ex-girlfriend. 

By flipping a penny in solitary confinement, he is able to face a long-standing obsession with odds and his underlying fear of failure. You can watch the preview here (parental discretion advised): Worth Preview

Friday, May 24, 2013


Alex and Ben experience the devastating miscarriage of their first child. On the weekend of Halloween, Ben decides to get them out of town, hoping to have a chance to talk through their loss. Alex proceeds to protect herself through denial and treats the weekend, inappropriately, like a romantic getaway. But on a morning run, she finds a dead Possum on the side of the road, and heartbroken by the sight of its lifeless body, she comes to face her tragedy — and Ben. Now they can deal with each other. 

This 16-minute short film by writer, director and producer Eleanor Wilson, who is originally from Australia, is marked by a powerfully engaging relationship between two upwardly mobile professionals. The stakes of their problems are high, and the intelligent way in which they speak to each other gives their words extra heft and immediacy. Wilson herself plays the lead, superbly, and her leading man, Miguel Govea, brings equivalent depth to his role. 

This is a strong little drama. You can watch the trailer here: Possum Trailer

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Secrets for Success

On the day Li is officially hired at the company of his dreams, and only a few days after getting married, the young businessman learns from his boss's wife that trust is relative, win-win situations can be biased in favor of one of the winners, and the road to success takes no sure path. Fate will rule him.

A lively, black comedy situated at the heart of Chinese contemporary society, Three Secrets for Success shows how success is superficial when reality tells its own story. Directed by Arturo Casares Cortina, a Mexican citizen who lives in China, this NHFF Official Selection offers a fresh and entertaining blend of cultural vantage points. 

You can watch the trailer here: 

Proudly Announcing a New NHFF Contributor

Valerie Patterson is the director of marketing for a regional residential real estate company. From 1997 until 2005, she worked at Dow Jones & Co. Inc. and was the producer of The Wall Street Journal Online's real estate site for both commercial and residential coverage. While at, she was a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN and Fox News. She holds a B.A. in German and Communications from Cedar Crest College and an M.A. in speech communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   

Ms. Patterson joins us a writer with a special emphasis on documentaries. Look for her upcoming feature article, Green Is Good, in our 2013 Program Guide. The piece takes a closer look at two of this year's documentaries, The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert and Surya Prakash — A Journey Through Life and Art.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Risk Factor

Any artist worth his or her salt is willing to take risks, even to the point of wasting an entire life on a pursuit that bears little tangible fruit. This is the central theme The Risk Factor, a portrait of Lambertville, New Jersey artist Paul Matthews.

A heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune, Matthews eschewed the careers that are often expected of a privileged young man — law, academia, business and medicine — and instead used his modest trust fund to support his painting. When starting out, he was certain of his destiny as a famous artist, but time brought him back to earth; this documentary, a retrospective on his life and career, asks a probing question: was it worth it?

Despite his blue-blooded upbringing, most people can identify with Paul Matthews, a careerist who struggled to live up to his own youthful ambitions. It's a film about fame, recognition and missed opportunities. Paul's story is at turns amusing and sad, but ultimately, it's optimistic.

You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion advised): The Risk Factor Preview

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If I Were a Bell

If I Were A Bell is the poignant story of two brothers who fall into a perilous love triangle with a rising, bombshell rapper. 

Director Sherese Robinson Lee, who bases herself in Manhattan, brings consummate artistry to this film: the score, the cinematography, the acting, the lighting and the intricate rhythms of this piece are melted together into something sensitive and graceful, despite the hard edge of some of the scenes. 

You can watch the trailer here: If I Were a Bell Preview

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Corinne, an aging theater actress, wakes to a disastrous review of her latest play and the news that she has not been casted in an upcoming production. Struggling to find meaning in her work, Corinne transforms her apartment into her stage, her theatrical past into her present, and her husband, Chris, into her audience. But her impromptu morning drama is interrupted when a bird crashes into their window. Where Chris finds death, Corinne finds an allusion to Anton Chekhov. 

Student helmer Michael Johnston wrote and produced IRINA during his second year at Temple University's Film & Media Arts Graduate Program with help from a Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association Finishing Funds Grant and a Temple University Completion Grant. Johnston refers to his film as a Christopher Durang-style dramedy, but his characters have the maturity, depth and tension one would expect from a full-out dramatic piece — you can feel the agony in his fragile protagonist.

The trailer is available on their Facebook page (parental discretion advised): IRINA Preview

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shell Shocked

Shell Shocked is a documentary about youth and gun violence, the way the environment that inner city kids grow up in contributes to gun violence, and what can be done to help kids growing up amongst this mayhem. The film started as a teenage documentary program four years ago. Five New Orleans youths participated in a class where they were asked to document their lives and share their insights into why there was so much gun violence in the communities in which they lived. All of the participants would be what society would consider "good kids," but all of them had witnessed either a family member or friend getting shot. This is common for New Orleans African-American youth: the New Orleans homicide rate, annually, leads the nation by a wide margin. What the filmmakers learned from the kids became the guiding principal of the film.

Executive Producer and Director John Richie, along with his clearly passionate team, has produced a powerful piece about a social milieu that cries out for reform. As the film sagely points out, no one wants to be a gang member or live in a violent neighborhood; tragically, many see no alternative. But a film like Shell Shocked is a catalyst for positive change.

You can read more about Shell Shocked in a Huffington Post Feature and a Article. The film has also inspired a heartfelt and moving music video by KOAN, which you can watch here:  

And the trailer is here: Shell Shocked Trailer

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Assignment

Obie (Erica Marks) is second-in-command in the Vigils, an established secret organization at Trinity High School. A professor enlists the Vigils' help, wishing to use their influence to convince students to sell overpriced, fundraiser chocolates. When new student Jerry Renault (Garrett Hnatiuk) refuses to participate, Obie attempts to persuade him to sell the chocolates. The two begin a secret romance, though he continues his defiance. As Obie witnesses the Vigils escalate their aggressive tactics towards Jerry, she is forced to examine her involvement with the organization that once protected her but now seems ready to destroy everyone she cares about. 

This undergraduate student project from Winnipeg, Canada came about thanks to funding from the University of Manitoba and Canadian private investors, and director Cam Peters has taken this modest charter to produce a work that far exceeds the requirements of his own assignment. Based on Robert Cormier's 1974 young adult novel, The Chocolate War, this film is dark, brutal and realistic; as the filmmakers make clear in the (parental discretion advised) Featurette, The Assignment is an allegorical tale about power structures and how people cope with them. 

Check out the trailer here (parental discretion advised): The Assignment Trailer

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Battle: Change from Within

Battle: Change from Within is a documentary about educator Eliot Battle and the pivotal role he played in desegregating schools, housing, and the Columbia, Missouri community. As Battle facilitated changes with quiet resolve, he faced resistance from both the black and white communities. His calm demeanor and dedicated work within existing institutions and systems allowed him to bridge the gap between the two races and change Columbia for the better. 

Written and produced by Michael Hicks of University of Missouri Extension, this film is highly educational and offers great social value. You can watch the trailer on the documentary's website: Battle Preview

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert

All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert chronicles the journey of Winfred Rembert, an African-American artist who recently had a retrospective in a top-tier Madison Avenue gallery but who earlier in his life had served seven years on a chain gang in Georgia. 

His brightly colored paintings, all executed on leather canvases that Rembert tools, a technique he learned in prison, describe life in the Jim Crow south of the 1950's and 60's. A native of Georgia, Rembert now lives with his wife and eight children in a rough neighborhood in New Haven, but also operates in the social universe of well-off white collectors in Connecticut who buy his work. This wonderful, inspiring film by Vivian Ducat traces Rembert's life and contextualizes the era he describes. 

Check out the Feature in Vanity Fair and watch the trailer here: Winfred Rembert Preview

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Set in present-day Iraq, Refuge tells the story of Nabil, who moves to Baghdad with his two young sons after the kidnapping and murder of his wife Mariam. Nabil has trouble finding employment in the city, which is full of other internally displaced Iraqis. One of these new arrivals is his neighbor, Tariq. 

Tariq’s face haunts Nabil – his eyes are so familiar, much like the eyes he glimpsed through a keffiyeh on the day his wife was taken from him. As Nabil’s dreams grow more intense, he becomes convinced that his intuition is correct - Mariam’s killer is living in his building, mere feet away from his two vulnerable sons.  

Directed by Michelle Steffes and co-written by Rebekah Score and Paul Luebbers, this American film is delivered with a heightened sense of verisimilitude, making a story that deals with the machinations of modern-day Iraq all the more compelling. At the same time, Steffes, Score and Luebbers display oceans of heart for a place in which hope and love for your fellow man ultimately rein supreme.

You can watch the trailer here: Refuge Preview

Friday, May 10, 2013


Ten-year-old Autumn (Reagan Frankhouser) lost her father several years before the story begins, and her family and she are still struggling to find equilibrium. The girl's mother Kate and her teenaged sister Amanda are too caught up in their own concerns to pay her much attention, so Autumn throws herself with desire and determination into her favorite pastime, taking photographs, and finds solace in the company of a father figure. But wandering the neighborhood and capturing strangers on camera has its risks, as she soon discovers. Will she remain safe, and if so, will she use that safety to realize her potential as an artist?

The cinematography is this locally produced film makes excellent use of the textures one can find in historic Bucks County, as one might expect in a film so immersed in photography, but there's much more at work than aesthetics here. Director Susan Barry displays a remarkably delicate and sensitive touch as she explores the inner world of an awkward girl whose inability to find answers for big questions propels her to observe and record the people around her. And the biggest strangers she needs to figure out are her own parents. 

Recently featured in a Bucks County Herald Story, Autumn is a film with New Hope roots that easily holds its own with our national and international offerings. Frankhouser's acting is right on the money and the story is poignant. You can watch the trailer here: Autumn Trailer

Monday, May 6, 2013

Out of Print

Books have long been essential to human civilization.

Out of Print draws us into the realm of the written word, illuminating the turbulent but exciting journey from the book through the digital revolution. We live in an age where writers, publishers, and readers are all in flux, booksellers are closing, students are confronting new challenges, and librarians and teachers are seeking new responsibilities. 

Storytellers Ray Bradbury and Jeffrey Toobin, novelist and Authors Guild President Scott Turow, Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Harvard University Library Director and Digital Public Library of America enthusiast Robert Darnton, and other book world luminaries are interviewed in this essential new documentary by director Vivienne Roumani. Narrated by Hollywood legend Meryl Streep.

You can watch the trailer here: Out of Print Trailer

Friday, May 3, 2013


In Kayip (The Loss), Turkish filmmaker Mete Sozer tells the story of a man who, after a painful breakup with the love of his life, waits at a cafe for a lifetime in hopes she will walk in again. Produced in Belgium, Turkey and Los Angeles as a student project, this short film is at times surreal and at times vulnerable, and it's always fine aesthetically. Watch the actress (Ozge Ozpirincci) in the preview and you will see that Sozer has a subtle sense for authenticity and detail.

You can watch the trailer here: Kayip Trailer