Emanating from a 1710 land grant, the New Hope area has a storied history. It began as a trading post and ferry terminal, and by the 1940s New Hope's reputation in the arts, spurred by the multitudes of playwrights, directors and actors who traversed its bustling streets, became legendary.
This tradition continues today. Galleries call New Hope and its bohemian neighbor across the Delaware River, Lambertville, N.J., their home. Hollywood and New York-based producers steal away to the community's varied streets on weekends and holidays, and through venues such as the Bucks County Playhouse, the area's nightlife and entertainment options are boundless. Still, the community maintains a cozy feel and things tend to happen here on an intimate scale.
Entrepreneur and writer D. F. Whipple, a long-time resident of New Hope's Bucks County, floated the idea of starting a film festival after co-founder Thom Michael Mulligan recounted his frustrations on the festival circuit—questions of access and mission that were shared by many emerging filmmakers at the time. Having already shared his New Hope stage experiences with Whipple during this summer of 2008 breakfast meeting in Frenchtown, New Jersey, Thom quickly endorsed the idea and suggested New Hope as an ideal location for such an event. Thus, the New Hope Film Festival was conceived, and Whipple took the initiative to establish a private arts organization that became active on January 1, 2009. Whipple then invited a group of artists to collaborate with him, including composer Marianne Speiser, who became Director of Communications, local photographer Danny Sailor and Southern California-based Mulligan, the award-winning indie film producer and actor who oversees the Festival's selection process as Director of Submissions. Hollywood screenwriter Mark Rosenthal, a strong supporter of New Hope, has long served as a Festival advisor. The event's main venue has been the New Hope Arts Center throughout the Festival's history. In an often frenzied and outrageous era, this Festival is a refuge, a place where you can pause and go deeper. Here, it's about art. Allow yourself to slow down and savor it.
The Festival's core mission is to discover and nurture independent filmmakers, many of whom are seeking world and U.S. debuts and remain overlooked and/or underappreciated by other forums. This broad and inclusive group includes filmmakers from outside the United States. The New Hope Film Festival operates by a strict code of fairness: Festival organizers do not invite films into the Festival, offer fee waivers, allow personal pitches from filmmakers, distributors and/or their agents, or sanction any other practices they consider preferential treatment. All films are treated equally in the process, which begins by submitting through Film Freeway. Furthermore, content produced by Festival organizers is never accepted at the Festival, even at special events. This highly prestigious member of the indie scene is especially renowned for the quality of its lineup.
Painting by Ranulph Bye (1987) / Member of the National Academy in New York
New Hope Film Festival has been building a rich filmography since the Festival opened its doors in 2009. Distributors, film historians, potential Festival entrants and other interested parties can research the Festival's history, including past official selections, award winners, film profiles, trailers and more by searching the Festival's Program Guide Archive and Official Blog.