Arts Spotlight: Monadnock International Film Festival

Now approaching its sixth festival, the Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF) is gearing up for another exciting and expanded slate of films for this year’s event. Showcasing thirty-six documentary and fiction films, both features and shorts, the 2018 festival will take place April 19th through 21st in downtown Keene at The Colonial Theatre and at Keene State College’s Putnam Theatre. The “Best of Fest” which screens the Audience Award winning films will return for a second year to Peterborough’s Community Theatre on Sunday afternoon, April 22nd.

Once again, the films will represent three different tracks: foreign films, regional films, and social issue films. This year’s festival will showcase compelling stories from around the world, including countries such as Spain, France, Libya, Slovakia, Greece, Poland, Guatemala, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine. A special sidebar will focus on the timely global refugee and migration crisis.  Several films dealing with this issue will be screened, followed by Q&A discussions with guest filmmakers and local social activist groups.

The highlight of the film festival is the Jonathan Daniels awards ceremony on Saturday night, sponsored by the Jonathan Daniels Center. In honor of Keene’s Civil Rights hero, this annual award is given to a filmmaker whose film combines artistic excellence with awareness of a social justice issue. This year’s award will go to the gripping documentary “Sky and Ground”, co-produced and co-directed by New York filmmakers Talya Tibbon and Joshua Bennett. Their film follows the treacherous journey made by three generations of a Syrian-Kurdish family as they escape on foot from a refugee camp through several countries to Germany.

Executive Director Dianna Costello states that the festival is a gift to our community and truly a collaborative effort. “It would be impossible to put the festival on without the support of our three major anchors, The Putnam Foundation, C&S Wholesale Grocers, and Keene State College, not to mention all the local banks, businesses, restaurants, and organizations who support us with sponsorships, donations, and ads for our program book.” Costello also noted that the majority of money raised for the festival gets pumped right back into the community to pay for theaters, hotels, caterers, advertising, printing and marketing services, among others.

Please explain MonIFF’s commitment to the arts in the Monadnock Region.
MONIFF is committed to giving exposure to regional filmmakers whose films often fly under the radar, not just during the film festival but throughout the year in community screenings. Back in January, we screened Adele and Everything After, partnering with the Monadnock Humane Society. This documentary made by a Boston filmmaker tells the story of Marty, a woman with an incurable heart condition who must retire her service dog of ten years and learn to bond with a new dog. A lively Q&A discussion followed the screening with the filmmaker along with Marty and her husband who brought Adele, the retired service dog and Hector, the new service dog with them.

Prior to that, we screened the Oscar-nominated documentary My Architect, about legendary architect Louis Kahn. I accidentally found out that our local architect Dan Scully was mentored by Mr. Kahn and Dan's father who was an art historian was interviewed in the film. As one of my all-time favorite docs, it was a no-brainer to screen this film and invite Dan as our guest speaker. Others must have agreed because it pulled in a large audience and played to a sold out crowd at Peterborough's Community Theatre. 

Is MonIFF collaborative? How so? How does MonIFF work with artists and arts related organizations?
Coming up next, we've partnered with the Redfern Arts Center to screen Pina, the Oscar-nominated documentary by legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders about the great German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. This film will be screened during our festival at the Putnam Theatre along with a short made by Keene State College students who recruited volunteers to record a live rendering of her dance, "The Nelken Line". This dance has become a widespread phenomenon around the world with dance lovers of all ages performing a series of repetitive movements in a long queue outdoors in public. We've also promoted other Redfern film events accompanied by live orchestras, including the classic Black Pirates starring Douglas Fairbanks and the Oscar-nominated animated feature The Triplets of Belleville.

Two Public Launch parties will be held this year to show sneak peeks of the film program and offer the opportunity to buy discounted passes. The first one will take place at Keene’s Courtyard Marriott Hotel on March 29th from 5:30-7pm, and the second one at Peterborough Community Theatre on April 3rd from 5:30-7pm. Individual tickets for a single film can also be purchased at the Colonial box office the day of the film. For films screening at the Putnam Theatre, individual tickets can be purchased at festival headquarters in the Colonial Corner, or on MONIFF’s website,