Interview with Doug Whipple, Executive Director NEW HOPE FILM FESTIVAL

The New Hope Film Festival is sponsored by Comcast Corporation, Times Publishing Newspapers, Inc., Greater Philadelphia Media, and the Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce. The 8th annual festival will take place from July 21 – 30, 2017. Decisions will be emailed by May 1, 2017.

Touted as the “emerging ‘Sundance East'” in a Huffington Post article, this internationally respected indie fest was founded by D. F. Whipple, an author screenwriter and long-time resident of the New Hope, Bucks County area. Whipple formed New Hope Film Festival with a group of artists who shared his passion for discovering and nurturing independent artists, especially those who’ve been overlooked by established festivals. This includes international films, which the Festival is eager to attract.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

A number of our films have landed distribution deals, for example Freestyle Digital Media picked up The Syndrome, but we’re doing a lot more than moving films through distribution channels. We’re changing lives. Formerly obscure filmmakers are gaining mainstream recognition. Two of my favorite examples screened at NHFF in 2010: Andreas Arnstedt, whose film The Dispensables (Die Entbehrlichen) earned a Best Debut Film nomination from German Film Critics Association and Sisir Sahana in India, who is now a respected educated and filmmaker.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Network with other, like-minded film industry professionals, gain inspiration from watching amazing films, gain worldwide exposure and potentially get mainstream press.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Artistic merit, period.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Yes, absolutely! Politics. Too often, festivals invite films into their festival through the back door due to personal connections or affinity with the subject matter without seriously considering films that we submitted through publicly-available channels. This is something we never do. Everyone gets a fair chance here. We never invite films into the festival. In fact, this is why Director of Submissions Thom Mulligan and I started the New Hope Film Festival. He had experienced some frustrating experiences on the festival circuit after submitting his own film, Callous.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Fairness was our initial motivation, but as time went on we found that personal words of appreciation from filmmakers, and the differences we’re making in lives, motivate us to keep doing all of this incredibly hard, year-round. We love doing this!

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

The platform is becoming important to us. It’s an easy platform to use and we’re getting some awesome films this way.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We’ll be a 10-year-old film festival in 2020, so we should see even more mainstream submissions. We’re already receiving submissions from production companies with serious Hollywood credentials.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

A reporter asked me this question last year and I discovered that it’s Blade Runner. But I’ve only watched it 3 times. I watch many NHFF films, at least in part, over and over, in the course of my duties as Executive Director.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A deep, sincere and organic connection to the material and the project. If you have this, the budget isn’t so important. We do care about production values, but I’ve seen no budget films leave audiences speechless during the final credits.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

It’s ok. We’re seeing more local production and we definitely have some passionate fans, but we’ve built a festival in an art town that doesn’t even have a movie theater. Filmmakers who come to New Hope fall in love with the town and have a blast, but this is not a zany atmosphere of red carpets and searchlights. New Hope is a charming, intimate place for a film festival.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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