The Monarch Film Festival has returned for its third year with a big, fresh crop of films, many locally made. The fest represents the project of Pacific Grove filmmaking couple Cristiana DiPietro and Matthew Kalamane (who are expecting the birth of another project, their second child, any moment now.)
“Every year we let the festival define itself,” DiPietro says.
The screenings began on Wednesday, launching off four of Lighthouse Cinemas’ screens at the same time, subdivided into seven categories, some with filmmaker Q&As.
They include everything from a documentary like Fagbug Nation, about a woman determined to drive through all 50 states in a rainbow colored VW Bug to raise awareness about LGBT issues; to a musical doc like Austin to Boston, about four bands that pile into vans after SXSW to tour America, produced by Mumford & Son’s Ben Lovett; to a short film shot with a point-and-shoot camera called Mary’s New Shoes, that is literally about 91-year-old former Broadway dancer Mary Burr buying sneakers at the Sand City Target.
All told, a long list of films crowd into a short amount of time: 18 of them from around the world, 16 of them local, including Kalamane’s feature, Grin. It ends Thursday evening, which may be the most opportune time to attend because it’s when the winning films and the judges’ choice winner are announced and screened, so these are doubly vetted.
DiPietro describes the programming of all that variety as “tricky,” but the website has laid out the grid in an easy to read style, and the fest has more volunteers to ensure it’s more “seamless.”
“We’re very excited to be doing it again and supporting everybody. That’s a big part of what we try to do,” DiPietro says.