From April 19 through 22, the sixth annual Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF) took place in The Colonial Theatre on Main Street. 

According to the event’s program, MONIFF strives to “[engage] audiences with independent films that celebrate diversity.” 

Keene State College sophomore Peter Kelleher volunteered at the MONIFF headquarters. 

He said he first became aware of the festival as a first-year, when he was involved in the KSC Video Production Club and some upperclassmen club members told him he should look into it. 

Angelique Inchierca / Photo Editor

Angelique Inchierca / Photo Editor

Kelleher said he enjoys the variety of films that are shown at the annual event. “MONIFF is an international film festival, so they’re showing movies that aren’t from America that most people probably wouldn’t have heard of,” Kelleher said. 

He added, “Earlier today, I saw a movie about the Guatemalan genocide, and a movie that just played was a movie that takes place in Scotland, so it’s very diverse.” 

Kelleher added that, this year, many of the films were focused on social issues such as immigration and refugees. “I think it’s about… bringing awareness to international situations,” Kelleher said. He added, “I think learning about different cultures is an important thing. That’s what this festival can bring to people. It can help them see other cultures, other people — it lets them see other people’s lives.” 

Social worker and member of the Keene Immigrant and Refugee Partnership Joe Schapiro was in attendance at the Saturday, April 21, showing of “Sky & Ground,” a documentary film about a refugee Syrian-Kurdish family’s journey across Europe. Schapiro said, “I think it’s very easy in the United States — it’s very easy for me — to feel comfortable, to have enough food, to have a job, to have enough resources and money… it’s very difficult to know what it’s like to be displaced. I think this film gives a visceral experience of what it’s like.” 

Schapiro added that, while the issue of refugees is an international one, people don’t have to go to Syria to witness it. 

“I still think it’s easy for people to think that those problems don’t apply to Keene because there aren’t immigrants here or because there isn’t oppression here.” 

Schapiro added, “In the Keene public schools, in the English as a second language program, there are 20 different countries where students come from. I think it’s important for people to realize that these are issues that affect people here…” 

MONIFF Director Dianna Costello was unavailable for comment.

In addition to promoting social justice, MONIFF works to celebrate culture and the arts in the Keene community and the surrounding Monadnock region. 

MONIFF staff member and UpStream Sound & More employee Josh Blair said, “I feel like this area is very rich with the arts in general… there’s a lot of… musicians, there’s a lot of film students, a lot of artists in general, so [MONIFF] really coincides with this area, it being very culture-rich.”  

Despite the existing abundance of culture, Blair said Keene should continue embracing more events like MONIFF. He said, “There can always be more culture.”

Kalila Brooks can be contacted at

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