From Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23, The Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene was taken over by a film festival known as the Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF).
MONIFF is held once a year every April and gives independent filmmakers from the Monadnock region and around the world a chance to showcase their work and meet others in their field.
Events included are screenings of the films, Q&A with filmmakers after each screening and after-parties hosted by local restaurants.
The films selected to be featured in the festival are chosen by a selection committee.
Keene State College (KSC) junior Keelan Brown was an intern at the festival this year and worked directly under the festival’s main coordinator Dianna Costello.
Brown said the selection committee looks for films at other festivals around the country for consideration at MONIFF.
Brown said this year was the first year filmmakers could submit their work to be considered by the selection committee through an online collaboration of film festivals known as Film Freeway.
A selection committee watches all the submissions and determines which films will be shown at the festival.
Ruzzel Zullo is the co-volunteer coordinator of MONIFF and has been with the festival since its beginnings in 2012.
Zullo said the festival prides itself on finding filmmakers from the Monadnock area, even though it is not a requirement to submit work to the festival. At the end of the festival, there are awards given out to the best short picture, best documentary and the Jonathan Daniels award, which Zullo said is given to a filmmaker “who we think showed commitment to civil rights” in their work. Many of the films shown at the festival have some sort of societal commentary or civil rights message.
Zullo explained how he became involved in the festival. “A few people had an idea to start something, we felt like the community needed something to bond us through a love of film. It all comes down to a love for movies,” Zullo said. Zullo told of how the person who held his position before him suddenly had to leave the organization and he was given the job.
One filmmaker who entered work in the festival Jon Dewar, a native of New Brunswick, Canada, explained how he felt that sense of community that the festival looks to instill as he arrived in Keene. “I pull into Main Street and what I see is every store has a poster for the festival and I immediately have a sense of community,” he said.
Dewar first heard about the festival from his parents, who frequently visit New England in the fall for foliage season and submitted his film, “The Beautifully Drowned” through Film Freeway. Dewar spoke highly of the festival and said it is “definitely going to be on [his] future submit list,” and that he would be recommending MONIFF to other filmmakers. “I’ve really felt at home, I’ve met so many other filmmakers,” Dewar said.
MONIFF has been growing and this year included one of their events in the Peterborough Community Theater. Zullo said the festival hopes to continue to grow and create a further sense of community for the Monadnock region.
Elliot Weld can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org