Jonathan Daniels film & discussions featured at 2015 Monadnock Film Fest
August 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels, who was born and grew up in Keene. Daniels and his legacy will be a focus of the 2015 Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF) and pre-festival programming.
The Humanities Council has awarded a grant to MONIFF for programming that will examine Daniels' life and tragic death through film showings, discussions, and special recognition of Larry Benaquist and Bill Sullivan, the makers of the award-winning documentary on Daniels, Here I Am, Send Me, which was created with Humanities Council support.
In March 1965, Jonathan Daniels answered the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, who recruited students and clergy to come to Selma, Alabama, to take part in the march to the state capitol in Montgomery for voting rights. Daniels decided to remain in Alabama and on August 14 he went to Fort Deposit to join a protest of the town's whites-only stores. All of the protesters were arrested and taken to jail in the nearby town of Hayneville. The police released five juvenile protesters the next day. The rest of the group were held for six days; they refused to accept bail unless everyone was bailed. Finally, on August 20, the prisoners were released without transport back to Fort Deposit. After release, the group waited near the courthouse jail while one of their members called for transport. Daniels, along with three others, walked to buy a cold soft drink at nearby Varner's Cash Store. But barring the front was Tom L. Coleman, an unpaid special deputy who was holding a shotgun. He threatened the group and leveled his gun at seventeen-year-old Ruby Sales. Daniels pushed her down and caught the full blast of the gun. He was instantly killed. His death helped galvanize support for the Civil Rights movement.
In addition to its annual $1,000 Jonathan Daniels Award, which is given to a filmmaker who combines cinematic excellence and social awareness, MONIFF will honor filmmakers Larry Benaquist and Bill Sullivan with an honorary Jonathan Daniels Award.On the weekend of the film festival, April 17 and 18, MONIFF will host a screening of Here Am I, Send Me, followed by a panel and audience discussion featuring the filmmakers and facilitated by Keene State College Professor James Waller, who grew up in Atlanta during the height of the Civil Rights movement.
Pre-festival events include a showing of Amos Fortune Road, a documentary about the prominent NH African American leader and business man, on Friday, March 6 at 5 p.m. at the Jaffrey Women's Club. The film screening will be accompanied by a display created by the Jaffrey Public Library and Jaffrey Historical Society and a discussion featuring local experts on Amos Fortune's story and his continuing impact on the town.
On Saturday, March 7 at 11 a.m. the Putnam Theatre at Keene State College will host a screening of Anita, a documentary about Anita Hill and the political firestorm that erupted in 1991 when, during Senate confirmation hearings, the young African American law professor accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. This film gives a rare glimpse into her life in the aftermath and the impact of her testimony on the issues of sexual misconduct in the workplace and gender equality in America. Dr. Dottie Morris will lead a post-film discussion on the struggle for women's rights and its intersections with the Civil Rights movment.
The Jaffrey Women's Club will host a screening of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner on Thursday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at 7 Main St. This classic film about a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black raises questions about the power of story-telling: what meaning stories can bring to our lives and how they can be a vehicle of change. A post-film discussion led by Larry Benaquist will explore race-relations as seen through film and how movies can make a difference in social change.
On Friday, March 27 at 2 p.m., the Keene Public Library will host a screening of Lost Boundaries, a 1949 film based on William Linday White's book of the same name, a non-fiction account of Dr. Albert C. Johnston and his family who passed for white while living in New Hampshire 1930s and 1940s. The film won the 1949 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Screenplay. The film showing will include a short documentary on the making of the film, followed by a discussion featuring scholar and founder of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Valerie Cunningham and Larry Benaquist.
For more information about MONIFF and the Jonathan Daniels events, visit the MONIFF website. While the Monadnock International Film Festival weekend involves ticketed events, the Jonathan Daniels pre-festival film and discussion series and special screening of Here Am I, Send Me are free and open to the public.