Lights, camera, film fest!

Life, death and everything in between is the theme of the much-anticipated New Hampshire Film Festival this weekend — featuring dozens of entries in genres ranging from cerebral slapstick art house film noir to post-apocalyptic spaghetti western thrillers.

And — spoiler alert! — the program looks like it is more about humanity than jamming car chases and explosions all up in your face while you stuff your mug with that $9 triple-jumbo soda and a $12 industrial child-size popcorn.

Based on titles alone, I’m stoked to see “Bicycle Hooker,” “Death of a Shadow” and “Patti and Me Minus Patti.” Also: “If We Were Adults,” “Mud Lotus,” “Alive, Feeling Like A Buck Seventy-Five” and many more.

Just my luck that this blockbuster cultural event comes the same weekend as my first annual Unreel Film Festival.

Mine also features dozens of entries in genres ranging from pre-Cambrian silent movie biopics to minimalist B movie sci-fi slasher “talkies.”

And — spoiler alert! — not everyone lives happily ever after. (In fact, wait’ll you see how the protagonist whacks the bad guy in “Revenge of the Vengeance-Seeking Avengers”!)

Unlike the N.H. Film Festival with its fancy movie screens and indoor venues, my film fest features raw, stripped-down cinema as it was meant to be enjoyed — on white and off-white sheets draped from walls, trees and poles at top-secret locations near you.

Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime to the macabre and back again, my selections tend to reflect the insanity of life in 21st century America.

For example, nowhere else will you see Coco Flambizzington’s X-rated expose of rampant exhibitionism in the fashion industry, “The Devil Wears Nada.”

I am also privileged to host the East Coast premiere of a genre-bending tale in which four friends — one whose heart was ripped out by a shark, another his brain — set out on an epic and perilous quest. Warning: Seating is limited for “The Wizard of Jaws.”

Many of my films were selected because they embody a special connection to our region. In “The New Hampshire Chainsaw Massacre,” for example, a mysterious woodsman chops down a whole bunch of trees, hacks them up and stacks them neatly (too neatly?) next to a foul-smelling barn that holds more secrets than chickens.

Also playing:

“Pirates of the Kittery Point Yacht Club” — Noted local Johnny Depp look-alike Michael Venn stars as Captain Mike Sparrow in this swashbuckling tale that captured the prestigious Japanese Medal at the South Berwick Film Festival.

“A COAST Bus Named Desire” — Blanche, a fading beauty with booze issues, delusions of grandeur and a dysfunctional living situation, must rely on the kindness of strangers as she commutes to classes at Great Bay Community College.

“The Manchurian Council Candidate” — Observers begin to suspect a mysterious Portsmouth City Council candidate has been brainwashed by shadowy pro-development forces to destroy the city.

“A Fistful of Quarters” — A pale, taciturn stranger from the Wild West rebels against Portsmouth’s parking enforcement regime by riding up on a 7-foot-tall stallion and parking his steed, without paying and for longer than the posted time limit, in front of Starbucks.

And now, for our feature presentation — a heart-warming film chronicling the 86-year arc of a beloved family-style Italian restaurant forced out of business by an unforgiving economy, then resurrected to once again serve up signature sauce ‘n’ pasta with glistening goblets of vino … “Days of Wine and Rosa’s.”

Additional locally themed movies include the stylish whodunit “Dial M for Martingale,” “Fast Times at Exeter High” and the erotically charged “Last Tango in Puddle Dock.”

I’m also screening a special series for fans of terrorism flicks, offering such little-known classics as “Sleeping With the Yemeni,” “Martyr on the Orient Express” and “Al Qaeda on the Western Front.”

And vampire enthusiasts will flock to my ghoulish creature triple features: “Silver Bullets Over Broadway” plus “Rebel Without a Coffin” and “Vein Man.” And “Barnabus of Arabia” with “Transylvanian Graffiti” and “Chitty Chitty Fang Fang.”

Finally, if I may flip the script to serious for a moment, back to the N.H. Film Festival, I urge everyone to see “Click,” a documentary starring my friend and colleague, the acclaimed photojournalist Deb Cram (1 p.m. Thursday at the Music Hall Loft).

I was there at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre back in December to witness Deb’s powerful, soul-baring story of surviving parental abuse. And — spoiler alert! — as you can see from the trailer, this talented and beautiful young performer can smash a guitar to smithereens with Pete Townsend-like intensity and passion.

— John Breneman

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