The Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF) celebrated its 10th anniversary at Keene’s Colonial Theater and Showroom on Sept. 23-25.
MONIFF premiered many films this year, including Georgia’s Line, a short film by KSC film professor Jo Dery.
“MONIFF is one of the key cultural events that happens in Keene,” said Deirdre Fitzgerald, MONIFF chair. ”We seem to be really rich in culture and arts.”
MONIFF is an annual event in Keene which brings in films of all genres and lengths and screens them, along with Q&As and afterparties with the filmmakers.
“A group of folks who were in the Monadnock area thought it would be a great idea to make a film festival for the region because it didn’t exist,” said Fitzgerald. “It took a couple years to get things started, figure out how to become a nonprofit and get the funds but that first year was… so well received in the community, if you think of…all the unique events in Keene, it fit right in, I think that explains its longevity.”
As the festival celebrates its 10th year, the committee is focusing on getting things back to normal post-COVID, Fitzgerald said.
“We look at it as emerging from the pandemic; we’ll celebrate with a lot of films and a lot of filmmakers coming into town,” Fitzgerald said. “I think everyone was so excited to screen their films in person without a lot of restrictions.”
Fitzgerald said the festival accepts submissions from filmmakers and then decides what to include in the event from that pool of submissions.
“Once we get a lot of those submissions in and take a look at them, we decide these are great for the festival and talk to the makers… [we also] connect with experts and independent makers to find what will do well in this region,” Fitzgerald said.
She also said the festival tends to avoid films with “gratuitous violence or that could be offensive.” Fitzgerald mentioned types of films that the organization tends to steer away from.
“We’re pretty open to anything, but we stay away from gratuity,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re looking at stories that inspire and touch the heart.”
In addition to showing documentaries by independent filmmakers, they are also showing narratives.
“The narratives still have that independent flair to them, they’re not the kind of stories you find on Netflix or the Learning Channel,” Fitzgerald said.
KSC Film Studies Professor Johanna Dery had her short film “Georgia’s Line” featured in the festival.
“Georgia’s Line” follows a grandmother, mother and daughter and their hardships as a family.
“The conflict between the family is that the grandmother spends every winter out in the woods,” Dery said. “ When her family returns back home from Vermont, they need her but…the grandmother is unwilling to budge from the atypical lifestyle that she’s leading.”
To make the production happen, Dery worked with a team of students and alumni, as well as professionals from outside the Boston area.
“I designed this as a project that could be made with alumni and students…My crew was all professional…Each one of them mentored a few students that were currently in school,” Dery said. “I think it was a fantastic experience because not only were the students getting experience on a real film set, but then they also were getting mentored by someone in the industry.”
Dery was excited to see the production finally make it to the screen.
“It was great… it was just amazing to see it on the big screen and with really good sound,” Dery said.
Independent filmmaker Jim Morrison also showcased his short film “Rent A Neighbor” during the festival.
“[“Rent a Neighbor”] is actually a scene from a bigger screenplay titled ‘Clammy James,’” Morrison said. “The core idea came from experiences of dealing with the huge influx of short-term visitors in a quaint seaside tourist destination.”
Morrison’s screening at MONIFF focused on the father character from “Clammy James.” “Rent A Neighbor” is the second short in the series, the first being “The Clam Kid”, which was included in last year’s festival.
“We are gearing up for the third story,” Morrison said. ”This will be a heavy drama. As our team moves forward, we look for ways to increase our production value.”
Morrison continued to explain the creative process. “Writing takes a long time, especially a script. It takes a lot out of you…it could take six months, it could take a year. I’m actually gonna go back and rewrite the script that this [“Rent A Neighbor”] comes from. It’s almost never ending until you decide to just put it aside and move on to the next,” he said.
Morrison described MONIFF as a unique experience. “[It] has a different feeling than other festivals, a lot of camaraderie,” he said.
Benjamin Martins can be contacted at