FLEFF's Cinemapolis Special Events include panels of scholars, activists, writers, filmmakers, and others to expand dialogues about significant issues with the community

FLEFF 2023 offers a special roundtable on African American food and many other panels of experts to engage audiences in discussions of the films.



Dancing the Twist in Bamako (Robert Guédiguian, France/Senegal, 2023, 120 min)

The 1960s were a time of change everywhere, and that includes Bamako, the capital city of Mali, a nation only recently independent from French colonial rule.

Dancing the Twist In Bamako is a romance fraught with the drama of political change, infused with the musical energy of that decade. Samba, a young, idealistic socialist, works toward creating a more just nation by day and dances with girlfriend Lara to the Beach Boys, Otis Redding, and the Supremes by night.

The film’s sensibility is inspired by the vibrant images, patterns, and compositions of famed Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé. Lara’s orange silk dress and Samba’s dazzling white suit, shot against the striped backdrop of their dance club and the black and white checked dance floor they cut up — all suggest that change is coming rapidly, that life is for living.


Speakers: Mat Fournier, Idrissou Mora-Kpai, Imane Terhima, Andrew Utterson

Wednesday, March 22, 7:00 p.m.at Cinemapolis

Friday March 24 CHILE '76


Chile ’76 (Manuela Martelli, Chile, 2022, 95 min)

Manuela Martelli places the viewer in a historical moment fraught with anxiety: the early years of Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile. Her narrative presents Pinochet’s oppressive reign from the unusual and surprising perspective of Carmen, an upper-middle-class woman whose life begins to unravel after local priest Father Sánchez implores her to use her summer beach house, under renovation, to hide an injured young man whom she comes to suspect is a victim of political persecution.

As Carmen descends into danger, she experiences a gradual moral awakening. Martelli’s film is a taut, evocative, and impressively assured depiction of the inescapable, ever-tightening noose of patriarchal, governmental dictatorship and how its effects gradually bleed into our everyday experiences.


Speakers: Jonathon Ablard, Brett Bossard, Raymond B. Craib, Camilo A. Malagón

Friday, March 24, 7:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis



Move When The Spirit Says Move (Ry Ferro and Deborah Hoard, US, 2023, 90 min)

NOTE:  To honor the Ithaca filmmakers who made this film on Dorothy Cotton, an Ithaca legend, we have programmed 16 additional screenings at Cinemapolis following this East Coast Premiere.

There was just something special about Dorothy Cotton. She sparkled with a spirit of freedom and a message of empowerment. She inspired people wherever she went, and that includes in the small town of Ithaca, New York, where she spent the last twenty-five years of her life. Hearing her stories, hearing her break out into song, inspired the filmmakers to help carry her work forward. It was particularly urgent to make this film — about this trailblazing woman — at this moment in history.

In her work as Education Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Citizen Education Program, Dorothy moved thousands of people from a mindset of victim to that of fully engaged citizen — empowering Black people not only to exercise their right to vote, but to take hold of their full range of rights and responsibilities as citizens. This sort of education is so deeply needed today.


Speakers: Filmmakers Ry Ferro, Deborah Heard, and Laura Branca with moderator Kenneth Clarke. Introduced by Patricia Zimmermann, Tanya Saunders for AKA

Music: Dorothy Cotton Singers

Saturday, March 25, 7:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis


babi yar

Babi Yar. Context (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine, 2022, 120 min)

Babi Yar is the ravine at the edge of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv where one of the largest mass executions in history took place. Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary builds from the leadup to the aftermath of the two days in September, 1941, when Nazis shot dead 33,771 Jews in the ravine.

The mass execution forms the silent core of this film, constructed entirely from archival footage, to which sound has been added in some cases. By precluding almost any form of interpretation, it ensures that the footage speaks for itself. It bears inescapable witness to not only the atrocities, but also the subsequent compliance of the city and its inhabitants. We see posters of Hitler willingly stuck on windows, only to be scraped off after the occupation ends, in an act of erasure that the ravine site itself came to suffer as well.


Introduction to the film: Zenon Wasyliw

Sunday, March 26, 4:45 p.m. at Cinemapolis



Seeds of Survival and Celebration: African American Food

This special panel features part of the team who conceived, researched, and mounted the Seeds of Survival and Celebration exhibition as well as others from public health and human rights to discuss the histories and legacies of African American food culture.

The garden display and exhibit at the Cornell Botanic Garden share the knowledge, skill, and resilience of enslaved Africans, their descendants, and today’s Black community and their deep connections to plants and the cuisines they inspired.

An exhibit inside the Welcome Center reveals how enslaved Africans used their culinary skills and plants that came with them from West Africa to prepare foods, which eventually became regional staples. Over 20 plants that were grown and used by enslaved Africans in the Americas are part of the display, including the black-eyed pea, okra, and sweet potato.

Nine of the plants displayed include short audio narratives to learn how they were used by enslaved Africans and made their way into regional cuisines we know and love today.

Speakers: Kofi Acree, Kenneth Clarke, Yolanda Clarke, Sarah Hunley Fiorello, Catherine Thrasher-Carroll

Saturday, April 1, 1:00 p.m.at Cinemapolis, see Cornell Botanic Gardens for more



The Natural History of Destruction (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine, 2023, 112 min)

A nighttime bombing raid filmed from the air lights up the explosions far below. There’s a perverse beauty to the images of destruction at the heart of this documentary about aerial bombardment, created entirely using archival footage. Director Sergei Loznitsa never lets you forget the underlying devastation. The bombs mark the dividing line between a merciless “before” and “after.”

Loznitsa describes The Natural History of Destruction as “his most symphonic film.” He follows in the footsteps of W.G. Sebald, whose collection of essays bearing the same title criticize the lack of attention for the civilian victims of the Allied mass bombings of German cities during the Second World War. But Loznitsa avoids ideology and chronology: images of Allied and German bombings are used interchangeably in this painfully topical work on the nature and absurdity of war.


Introduction: Michael Richardson

Sunday, April 2, 4:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis



Framing Agnes (Chase Joynt, US, 2022, 75 min)

Agnes, the pioneering, pseudonymized, transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s, has long stood as a figurehead of trans history.

In this rigorous cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt explores where and how her platform has become a pigeonhole. Framing Agnes endeavors to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed — one that has remained too narrow to capture the multiplicity of experiences eclipsed by Agnes’.

Joynt’s signature form-rupturing style radically re-envisions the imposition of the frame on the cultural memory of transness through his brilliantly crafted, communally driven excavation. This reclamation tears away with remarkable precision the myth of isolation as the mode of existence of transgender history-makers, breathing new life into a lineage of collaborators and conspirators who have been forgotten for far too long.


Speakers: Matt Fournier and Luca Maurer

 Saturday, April 8, 4:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis

Sat April 8 NO BEARS


No Bears (Jafar Panahi, Iran, 2022, 107 min)

Jafar Panahi has been crafting self-reflexive works about artistic, personal, and political freedom for the past three decades, despite his oppression at the hands of the Iranian government. Now, as the international film community denounces his summer 2022 arrest and continued imprisonment for his vocal support of a fellow artist’s independence, comes No Bears.

As in many of his recent titles, Panahi plays a fictionalized version of himself, in this case relocated to a rural border town to remotely direct a new film in nearby Turkey — the story of which comes to sharply mirror disturbing events that begin to occur around him. As he struggles to complete his film, Panahi finds himself thrust in the middle of a local scandal, confronting the opposing pulls of tradition and progress, city and country, belief and evidence, and the universal desire to reject oppression.


Speakers: Andrew Utterson and Naeem Inayatullah

Saturday, April 8, 7:00 p.m.