FLEFF, 25 Years of Building Community

By Carlos A. Gutiérrez, film/video programmer, cultural promoter and arts consultant based in New York City, March 22, 2022
¡Viva FLEFF!


I’ve been fortunate to be part of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival’s extended family for many years now. 

Thanks to the kind invitations of Patty Zimmerman, Director of the festival, I’ve been happy to share Latin American films with local Ithacan audiences in different editions of FLEFF. Some highlights include: Claudia Sainte-Luce’s THE AMAZING CATFISH (2013), Natalia Almada’s EVERYTHING ELSE (2016), Fernanda Valadez’s IDENTIFYING FEATURES (2020) all from Mexico; Patricio Guzmán’s THE PEARL BUTTON (2015), a Chilean documentary; and, Argentinian filmmaker Gastón Solnicki’s KÉKSZAKÁLLÚ (2016). 

Being part of the large festival community has been one of the most enriching aspects of my FLEFF experience. For one, it’s been a great opportunity to meet the dedicated students from Ithaca College who volunteer for the festival and participate in the festival’s events. 

Part of the core audience of the festival, the students create a very dynamic and energetic atmosphere. 


The community of local professors and professionals have made me feel at home in Ithaca. From festival producers Ann Michel and Phil Wilde (with whom I have a longer friendship of almost two decades now) to professors Cecelia Lawless and Jonathan Ablard, who have generously moderated the post-screening discussions of some of those Latin American films, the FLEFF family has always been very welcoming and generous.

Ithaca has also served as a valuable meeting point for film professionals. During FLEEF, I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend time and to share ideas with very esteemed professional colleagues such as Rodrigo Brandao, Karin Chien, and Kevin Lee, among others, which has created strong professional bonds.

In addition to screening bold and powerful works of cinema, FLEFF has built an exciting and engaging film family. For me, this is its strongest asset. Particularly this year, when we’re coming out of our two-year imposed exile due to the pandemic, strengthening those bonds becomes more urgent than ever.

¡Viva FLEFF!