The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival was launched in 1997 as an outreach project from the Center for the Environment at Cornell University. Always dedicated to films with a message, the festival, under program director Christopher Riley, expanded to become a major regional event in upstate New York.
In 2004 Ithaca College was the major sponsor and host of the festival. In 2005 the festival moved permanently to Ithaca College, where it is housed in the Office of the Provost as a program to link intellectual inquiry and debate to larger global issues. At Ithaca College, the festival grew from a regional event into a national and international event. It also expanded beyond film to feature new media, art installations and exhibitions, music, scholars across many disciplines, archives, writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians activists, policy analysts, and public health professionals.
From 2004 to 2021, Patricia Zimmermann, Charles A. Dana Professor of Screen Studies, and Thomas Shevory, Professor of Politics, codirected the festival. As of 2022, Zimmermann serves as director of the festival.
FLEFF: A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT