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November 25. 2013 8:20PM

Keene film fest to expand into Monadnock area

JAFFREY — Organizers of the second Keene-based Monadnock International Film Festival to take place in April are planning to expand festival activities into Jaffrey and Peterborough.

"When the festival was first created, it had always been designed as a regional festival. That's why it's not called the Keene Festival," said festival executive director Laina Barakat.

Barakat and local filmmaker and festival program director Aaron Wiederspahn played a large role in creating the inaugural 2013 Monadnock International Film Festival last April, which attracted more than 1,500 people to Keene for the three-day event. The festival screened 14 films from around the world and brought almost $130,000 to the city in direct and attendee spending, according to festival organizers.

This year's festival is planned to take place April 10-12 in Keene with several new events aimed at children and families, Barakat said.

Additionally the festival is planning a local weekend, April 4-6, sponsored by Local Look Peterborough and Comcast.

Barakat said they hope to include the reconstructed Park Theatre in Jaffrey in future festivals. Although the old movie house is set to be razed shortly after Thanksgiving and then reconstructed next summer, the theater is not expected to be up by next April.

Festival organizers, however, have been working with Park Theatre Board of Trustees President Carolyn Hollister to plan a screening and gala for the local event that would take place under a tent on the cleared lot.

"By then there will be a flat foundation there," Barakat said. "It will kind of be the first real event happening there."

In Peterborough, venues such as the Town House and Peterborough Community Theater and Harlow's Pub are expected to be used for screenings and gatherings that would focus on New Hampshire-made or local student-made films.

Wiederspahn is teaching a screenwriting course to 22 ConVal High School students in Peterborough, so events will include panels with the students and script readings, Barakat said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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