New Bedford Filmmaker Ethan de Aguiar Debuts New Bedford Film Festival


MARCH 18, 2024

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New Bedford Filmmaker Ethan de Aguiar Debuts New Bedford Film Festival April 18-21, 2024

Inaugural event will celebrate cinematic stories and storytellers in the whaling city and release award-winning ‘Love Letters for New Bedford’ documentary to the public

NEW BEDFORD, MA – New Bedford Creative grant recipient, filmmaker Ethan de Aguiar, will launch the inaugural New Bedford Film Festival (NBFF) from April 18 to 21 to celebrate authentic cinematic stories, cultivate bold storytellers, and champion the vibrant city’s growing creative economy. The vision of NBFF will be to spotlight the diverse human experience through cinematic storytelling such as short and feature films, episodic media, music videos, documentaries, and PSA shorts.

“The New Bedford Film Festival is a welcome addition to the city’s thriving arts and culture scene,” exclaimed Jonathan F. Mitchell, Mayor of the City of New Bedford.

For the inaugural year, NBFF will take place at the Groundwork New Bedford and New Bedford Creative headquarters in the heart of the city with the opening ceremony to be held at the prestigious state-of-the-art New Bedford Whaling Museum Cook Memorial Theater, plus a pre-awards event to be held at Gallery X, followed by the awards ceremony at the Steeple Playhouse. With multiple screening areas, NBFF will offer the unique opportunity for a simultaneous showcase of films, panels, and networking events. There will also be a “Story in a Frame” event at Ground Floor Coffee where filmmakers will share a screenshot from their project and engage in lively discussions, as well as an awards ceremony. The finale closing ceremony will be held at the Steeple Playhouse.

“Our goal is to create an organization where filmmakers are celebrated and supported. We aim to organically grow the film and TV production capabilities of New Bedford and make it a hub for projects of all kinds, all the while helping to grow our city into an industry powerhouse,” shared de Aguiar.

As part of NBFF’s opening night celebrations, de Aguiar will publicly screen the award-winning and internationally recognized “Love Letters for New Bedford” documentary for the first time. Created in 2022 with support from New Bedford Creative and Arts Midwest as part of Creating Connection, a national initiative to make creative expression a recognized, valued, and expected part of everyday life, de Aguiar and co-producer Beatriz Oliveira set out to change social norms in New Bedford for the city’s 101,000 residents. Together they interviewed 18 local artists, educators, poets, journalists, authors, vocalists, and others, who shared their love for the city.

“I believe that when we share creative experiences together and express our own creativity, we build powerful connections,” said Margo Saulnier, Director of New Bedford Creative at the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “The ‘Love Letters for New Bedford’ film captures what’s so special about the connections artists create here in New Bedford, and we’re excited that everyone will now be able to see that for themselves in this inspiring film.”

Following the completion of the 15-minute documentary, it was submitted to 33 film festivals, gaining 15 Official Selections and four Awards, three of which were International Wins for Best Documentary; namely at the Portugal International Film Festival, 2023 Texas Arthouse Festival, Block Island Film Festival and Screaming Ostrich International Film Festival.

Funding for this ambitious initiative is provided by the City of New Bedford, through American Rescue Plan awards, and its Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, facilitated by New Bedford Creative at the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Additional support comes from South Coast Film Forum, Groundwork New Bedford, Ground Floor Coffee, Gallery X, Co-Creative Center and Scuttlebutt Coffee Company.

For a full schedule of events and screenings as well as to purchase tickets to attend the New Bedford Film Festival, please visit


About New Bedford Film Festival (NBFF)
New Bedford Film Festival celebrates authentic cinematic stories, cultivates bold storytellers, and champions the city’s growing creative and diverse economy. NBFF takes place in the vibrant city of New Bedford on the South Coast region of Massachusetts.

About New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC)
The NBEDC is a nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate and promote a transparent, credible, and business-friendly environment. The NBEDC works collaboratively with local, state, and federal partners to support creativity, sustainable job growth, and private sector investment benefiting the citizens of New Bedford. Grant and loan programs include NBForward for existing businesses, NB100! for new businesses, and grants through the New Bedford Creative program: ARTnet for individual artists, Wicked Cool Places for placemaking/placekeeping projects, and Art is Everywhere! for arts-based economic development.

Photo description: “Love Letters for New Bedford” premieres at the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater on Thursday, December 14, 2023.

Photo credit: Josh Souza for New Bedford Creative

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