The downtown screenings at Cinemapolis feature film and video makers in lively Q and A's with the audience. All filmmaker sessions are moderated by scholars and activists in the Central New York region

Learn more about the concepts, strategies, politics, and artistic practices of filmmakers working across narrative, documentary, experimental, new media, and hybrid forms. Our shorts programs interweave the films with filmmaker dialogues. The focus is on audience interaction and plunging into ideas.

Yi Cui, filmmaker


Documentary filmmaker Yi Cui

As a filmmaker, Yi Cui refrains from defining her work as representing a certain genre. Instead, she allows a leitmotif to develop freely, and to guide her as she looks for an articulate formal expression. The search for the rhythm and poetics that are unique to the cinematic medium is a recurring theme in Cui’s practice.

Cui is interested in weaving this formal pursuit into works that engage with pressing cultural and social questions. In her film Of Shadows (2016), for example, she intertwined two narrative lines to juxtapose urban spectacles with grassroots traditions, provoking viewers to encounter the profound dilemma faced by individuals situated between contemporary reality and the traditional past. Cui is currently working on a feature-length film essay based on her experience working in communities in eastern Tibet facilitating herdsmen, monks, and young students to make their own films.

Cui is a filmmaker from China and an Assistant Professor of Film and Video at Colgate University.

From Our Eyes: Shorts from Tibet with filmmaker Yi Cui (China/US, 90 min): Saturday, March 25, 1:30 p.m. at Cinemapolis  FREE

Ry Ferro, documentary filmmaker


Documentary filmmaker Ry Ferro

Ry Ferro is an American Documentary Film Director and graduate of the Roy H.  Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. Ry has been shooting and editing award-winning documentary films since 2004. Her films have screened at a wide range of festivals and been broadcast internationally.

Ry’s work includes There’s Your Ready Girl (2020), RE: Thinking (2016), Tell Me the Day Backwards (2013), Prizefighter (2012), and Translate (2005).

Ry is an activist filmmaker with a focus on human rights and civic engagement. There’s Your Ready Girl, her short film about Dorothy F. Cotton, won numerous awards and received significant praise for its timely and critical message.

Ferro has been creating experimental films from the age of 8 when she began to record and juxtapose snippets of daytime television using a VCR recorder and the handful of channels on basic cable.

She lives in Ithaca, NY with her partner and their two children.

Move when the Spirit Says Move (Ry Ferro and Deborah Hoard, US, 2023, 90 min): Saturday, March 25, 7:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis  ticketed event (note: multiple screenings of this film throughout the festival)

Deborah Hoard, producer, writer, researcher


Film producer and writer Deborah Hoard

Deborah C. Hoard is a producer, writer, researcher, and the President of PhotoSynthesis Productions. Much of her work has focused on social justice and education issues, and she has won hundreds of international and national awards. Her films have been broadcast and screened at festivals worldwide and have won more than 200 film and media awards.

Two of her previous documentaries were both New York Times Critics’ Picks. They Call It Myanmar (2012) was called “a thing of beauty. . . .one of the top 12 documentaries of 2012” by Roger Ebert. Angkor Awakens (2016), about Cambodia’s emergence from the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, the New York Times called “absolutely harrowing,” and the Washington Post hailed it as “intimate and deeply humane.” She most recently directed and produced the documentary Move When the Spirit Says Move (2023) about Civil Rights icon Dorothy Foreman Cotton.

Move when the Spirit Says Move (Ry Ferro and Deborah Hoard, US, 2023, 90 min): Saturday, March 25, 7:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis   ticketed event (note:  multiple screenings of this film throughout the festival)

Queline Meadows, video essayist and editor


Queline Meadows, video essayist

Queline Meadows recently graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in screen cultures and is currently working as a freelance video editor. Queline writes and edits video essays ranging from sixty-second “micro-essays” to long-form deep dives about film, video games, and other interesting media topics. She produces these for her YouTube channel, kikikrazed, as well as clients both big and small by commission.

Queline has been quoted on talking about video essays and has had her work published in physical form on Cartoon Saloon's Irish Folklore Trilogy Blu-ray box set. She has also organized several video essay projects with The Essay Library.

KikiKrazed Short Video Essays (US, 90 min)Sunday, April 2, 7:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis  FREE

Greg Palast, investigative reporter and documentary director


Greg Palast, investigative reporter and documentary director

Greg Palast is known for his investigative reports for The Guardian, BBC Television, Rolling Stone, and his string of New York Times bestsellers including The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (2002) and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits (2012).

His latest film, Vigilante: Georgia’s Vote Suppression Hitman (2023) is narrated by Rosario Dawson and produced by Martin Sheen. Palast and his hat have been seen on over 2000 media appearances. Pacifica Radio Network broadcasts his weekly Election Crimes Bulletin.

Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from the Congo to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as an investigator of corporate fraud on behalf of the US Department of Justice, 20 attorneys general, and governments from England to Brazil. Palast is Patron of the Trinity College Philosophical Society, and his writings have won him the Financial Times David Thomas Prize.

Vigilante (Greg Palast, US, 2023, 61 min): Saturday, April 1, 3:00 p.m. at Cinemapolis   FREE

Jeffrey Palmer, narrative, experimental, documentary filmmaker


Narrative, experimental, and documentary director Jeffrey Palmer

Jeffrey Palmer is an Associate Professor of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, and is an award-winning filmmaker and media artist. He describes his work as a multimedia exploration of Indigenous people's lives in twenty-first century America. His feature film N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear (2019) examines the life and mind of the first and only Native American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was a part of the PBS American Masters 2019 Emmy-nominated season.

Palmer is a member of the Directors Guild of America, International Documentary Association, Television Academy, and last year completed the short narrative film Ghosts (2022). Of Palmer's numerous short films, Isabelle's Garden (2015) was a winner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Short Film Challenge at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Ghosts and other shorts on Kiowa and Native Youth (Jeffrey Palmer, US, 2023, 90 min): Saturday, April 8, 1:30 p.m.

Matthew Podolsky, environmental and nature filmmaker


Matthew Podolsky, environmental filmmaker and podcaster

Matthew Podolsky co-founded the Wild Lens Collective in 2011 while producing his first film, the documentary Scavenger Hunt (2013), about the plight of the California condor. .Since then, Matthew has produced the Emmy-nominated Wild Lens film Bluebird Man (2014), and the award-winning Souls of the Vermilion Sea (2017). He co-directed the feature film Sea of Shadows (2019), which won the Audience Award at Sundance 2019 and was distributed by National Geographic.

Matthew is also a podcaster and audio producer and is a core member of the production team behind the Wild Lens Collective’s flagship podcast series, Earth to Humans! — a bi-weekly interview series, this is one of the longest-running podcasts focused on environmental issues. In 2020, Matthew launched Common Land, a documentary-style radio and podcast series that explores the creation stories behind protected areas. Matthew currently lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife Miranda and son Rowan.  He is a graduate of the Cinema program in the Roy H. Park School of Communications and Environmental Science in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Ithaca College

Wild Lens Shorts (Wild Lens Collective, US, 90 min): Saturday, April 8, 11:00  a.m. at Cinemapolis  FREE