The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), primarily sponsored by Ithaca College, will return for its 25th year in March, themed around tangles.
FLEFF will run from March April 21 to 10 and will features over 65 online and in-person events and films. In addition to films, the festival’s lineup includes talks with experts and scholars, concerts and presentations. All festival events will be linked to the theme of entanglement, which refers to the interaction and blending of concepts such as environment, culture and economy.
In addition to the new content of this year’s festival, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, FLEFF team members organized a “25 for 25” project. The project consists of a compilation of stories from former FLEFF contributors sharing the impact of the festival.
Patricia ZimmermanCharles A. Dana Professor of sscreen sstudies at University, served as co-director of FLEFF from 2004 to 2021 alongside Thomas Shevory, retired professor in the Department of Politics. Zimmermann is the sole director of the 2022 festival. She said the festival’s programming covers topics related to each school on the college campus.
“One thing I’ve enjoyed leading FLEFF for 20 years is the incredible dynamic intellectual energy,” Zimmermann said. “The way I think about it is that it’s a combustion engine, you know, that brings all these pieces together.”
It would be impossible, said Zimmermann, to host a festival like FLEFF without the contribution of many people. She said her role is to bring people together in a way that inspires collaboration and community.
“The biggest compliment a festival director can get is that people don’t know who you are,” Zimmermann said.
Since the festival moved from Cornell University to Ithaca College in 2003, a theme has been chosen each year to tie the material together and reinforce that the festival is educational. based rather than commercial.
To come up with a theme for each year’s festival, Zimmermann said she researches environmental, political and human rights issues to find a theme that’s appropriate, but abstract enough to hold work in many areas. .
“The [theme] what really stood out was the entanglements of that term,” Zimmermann said. “It’s an environmental studies term and it’s an environmental media theory term, and it was like during COVID, it’s the perfect topic because you can’t think of COVID as just something that makes you sick.”
Junior Taylor Cliff was a trainee for FLEFF in 2021 and returns as a producers assistant. In this role, Cliff and other students will work with FLEFF producers Ann Michael and Phil Wilde who are curating the festival lineup. She said the breadth of the theme was interesting and she could already see the connection to some FLEFF 2022 content.
“It can mean so many things and be interpreted in so many different ways,” Cliff said, “I love seeing how people put their work into this little one-word title but do so many different things.”
This year, FLEFF has 19 partners, from local to global. Zimmermann said this is the first year these partners have been announced on a the partners page, rather than being attached to specific events. This was done to recognize all the partners have contributed to FLEFF. Partners provide contributions such as financial support, expertise, films and streaming locations.
Zimmermann said the partnerships grow over many years of working together. This year’s new partners are Art Mattan films, Scribe Video and the Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures (CSGC).
“There’s over two decades of building relationships with people in Ithaca, in college, across the country and around the world, that’s how you put on a festival,” Zimmermann said. “We wanted, this year, to really recognize those relationships.”
The CSGC is a center of the University of Hong Kong dedicated to supporting research on globalization and cultural change. Although this is their first year as a partner, this is the second year CSGC will be involved with FLEFF. Gina Marchetti, director of CSGC, said that at this year’s festival, CSGC will host two panels on Chinese-language filmmakers.
“We were really pleased to be able to work with FLEFF in particular on their programming involving Chinese language films and the cultural component of environmental and eco-critical developments in this part of the world,” Marchetti said.
Zimmermann said there has been an increase in the number of partners this year, likely as a result of last year’s virtual festival. By organizing events online, the festival was able to attract a wider audience. Zimmermann said people of all ages, professions and individuals from more than 35 different countries participated in last year’s festival.
“I think this is the next phase of film festivals,” Marchetti said. “I think the next phase will be more in terms of digital and global connections for film festivals, in general, and then I think for environmental festivals, it’s so important because the environment is a global issue. “