February 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 32°F


FLEFF festival to add focus on film industry

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival is resuming its sixth year at Ithaca College from Sunday to April 17.

FLEFF is an internationally known annual film festival that launched in 1997 and was sponsored by the college and Cornell University. Events this year will take place on campus, at Cornell and Cinemapolis and include film screenings, musical performances, art shows and presentations from activists, journalists, scholars and filmmakers. These events are sponsored by a grant from the Park Foundation.

FLEFF’s mission is to link the community to the world and provide a forum for discussion about global environmental issues and sustainability.

Last year, there was not much physical presence of the festival on campus because both co-directors, Patricia Zimmerman, professor of cinema, photography and media arts at the college, and Tom Shevoroy, professor of politics, were on sabbatical, and the festival was mainly virtual.

FLEFF will kick off with an Opening Gala featuring “UNCORKED!,” a series of webisodes about the Finger Lakes wine country, at 7 p.m. Sunday at Cinemapolis.

Shevory said FLEFF strives to offer new components each year.

“One thing that’s new is that we have a lot more filmmakers and people involved with the film industry,” Shevory said.

Shevory said he recommends that students attend the “Rite of Spring” event at 8:15 Monday in the  Hockett Recital Hall.

All events on campus are free. Several media activists will visit the college, including Laura Deutch, new media artist and activist, and Tom Swarthout, commercial feature film and television editor.

Freshman Lexus Lomison, a student intern, said she went into the internship program expecting a festival experience, but said FLEFF is more than just a film festival.

“I thought it was going to just be a film festival, but it turned out to be so much more,” she said.

Zimmermann said about 50 faculty members are involved with developing the next festival a full year before it is presented. They all help research, design, promote and put on the festival.

Zimmermann said the festival grows every year and becomes more involved in bringing world issues and subjects to Ithaca. This year there will be 62 screenings in Cinemapolis and more than 80 events planned.

“We are an embodied festival — we have people rolling films. We’re doing concerts,” she said. “We’re bringing in new media artists.”

Tanya Saunders,  executive producer of FLEFF and assistant provost of international studies and special projects, said it is important to involve the campus community in a conversation about the globe.

“Each year, we try to introduce new elements to improve our performance,” Saunders said.

Zimmermann said FLEFF strives to connect to other parts of the world.

“The main goal of FLEFF is to prompt, incubate, ignite and explode dialogue, discussion and debate,” Zimmermann said. “We’re designed to feel more like an edgy international think tank. There are such fantastic things we’ve programmed, and this is the best one yet.”