Jill Pierson, 18, of Francestown will attend the fifth annual Monadnock International Film Festival next month because she hopes to become a filmmaker someday. For Cheryl Barlow of Harrisville, it’s because she’ll get to see flicks she wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
Others are going for the social aspect, or because they’re suckers for documentaries, which will be plentiful this year.
From April 20 to 23, films will be screened from directors from all around the world, including Spain and Hungary, and regionally from Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.
Roughly 60 people attended the film festival’s launch party Thursday night in the Hannah Grimes Center’s new room, The Hive. Each seemed to have different reasons for wanting to attend the four-day festival — which was fitting, considering the theme.
This year, it’s all about diversity, according to MONIFF Executive Director Dianna Costello; the tagline of the 2017 festival is celebrating diversity through film.
“With what’s going on in the world … now more than ever, it’s important to celebrate cultures from all over the world,” Costello said.
A wide range of films will be screened: short documentaries, feature documentaries, narrative-short documentaries and feature-length and short films. Discussions with filmmakers and actors, parties, red carpet events and awards are also planned.
A short-films panel discussion is scheduled for Friday, April 21, at the Hannah Grimes Center. It will include Derrick L. Middleton, a black, queer filmmaker, actor and musician from New York City; Erin Murphy, a Maine-based documentary filmmaker and Jon Dewar, a Canadian filmmaker and co-owner of the New Brunswick based production company, Frictive Pictures.
The following afternoon will feature a documentary panel, at 3:15 p.m. Among others, this panel will include Virginia Prescott, the Gracie Award-winning host of “Word of Mouth” and the “10-Minute Writer’s Workshop” podcast from NHPR; and Beth Murphy, founder of Boston-based Principle Pictures and director of GroundTruth Films.
Costello, who is directing the festival for the second year in a row, said there will be 11 feature-length films and 16 short films. (See related story for additional information.)
“Not only will they be as good (as last year), but they’ll be better,” Costello said.
She said the festival’s 10-member selection committee viewed 105 films, plus an additional few dozen from film festivals; last year, they chose from among 60 films.
At Thursday’s launch party, Sandra Neil Wallace, chairwoman of the selection committee, spoke about the winner of this year’s Jonathan Daniels Award, presented annually to a filmmaker whose work pairs artistic excellence with raising social and/or political awareness.
Murphy, who lives on Cape Cod, will receive the honor for her documentary, “What Tomorrow Brings,” about the first all-girls’ school in a small Afghan village, Wallace said.
Two Oscar-nominated films will also be screened at the festival.
“I, Daniel Blake,” (2016) will kick off the festival Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in The Colonial Theatre in Keene. The drama, directed by Ken Loach and rated R, follows a middle-aged man who needs welfare after suffering a heart attack, and a single mother in a similar situation. The film won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and recently the British Academy of Film and Television Award (BAFTA) for Best British Film.
Most movies will be screened at The Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene, although some will be played on Keene State’s campus.
Audience members vote on films for Best Narrative Short Film, Best Documentary Short Film and Best Documentary Feature Film shown on Friday and Saturday. Those films will be screened at the “Best of Fest” in on Sunday at Peterborough’s Community Theatre on School Street starting at 2 p.m.