By Stephanie Tokasz, February 2, 2021
An introduction of FLEFF team member and blogger Stephanie Tokasz.

Student, Film Enthusiast, FLEFF Team Member

Stephanie Tokasz

Blog posting written by Stephanie Tokasz, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’24, minors in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology, FLEFF Intern, Orchard Park, New York.

The halls bustling with students. The lockers slamming closed. Teachers trying to begin their lecture. “Just get through today,” I kept telling myself as I tried to make my way to my next class.

Back at my high school, every day felt the same. The only thing that was carrying me through was the idea that I would be celebrating my senior festivities in just a few months. After those events were over, I was planning to spend the whole summer with my hometown best friends, preferably on a small vacation. Lastly, I was beyond excited to move to my new home in the fall- Ithaca College. Needless to say, those days never came.

Or at least I thought they didn’t.

I was one of those high school seniors you probably heard about who had the rest of their senior year canceled. In a high schooler’s world, that’s a big deal. Of course, not as big of a deal as the ongoing pandemic with an unreal number of fatalities. But it still felt like a lot was being ripped away from “the best years of my life.”

Looking back, I now know that I was, well, completely wrong. I did miss out on some senior activities, but I didn’t have to spend those last months of my senior year cooped up in the classrooms where time stood still. I was also still able to spend the summer safely with my friends, and we just found our own adventure.

The most significant change came when I learned I would be spending the first semester of my freshman year at college in my high school bedroom. Perhaps this might be a selfish thing to say, but I wasn’t devastated when I heard the news.

With the relentless pandemic, I was comfortable staying in my home and continuing to share my bubble with my nuclear family, filling them in on the daily about what was going on in my life upstairs. I was also alright with advancing my education and adjusting to the college workload in a place that I was already familiar with. Most of all, I was truly fine with beginning to build friendships remotely because it would make meeting people later at a safe time all the more invigorating.

This is the same spirit I am looking forward to bringing to FLEFF.

I am thrilled to have my family and friends be a part of the festival this year in the safety of their own home, for myself to be a part of it in a comfortable place so that I can put all of my energy toward it, and to begin to build relationships with incredible people that I will have the pleasure of connecting with.

What I have begun to learn is that the days don’t have to constantly consist of telling yourself, “Just get through today,” like they did when I was back in high school. Even in these times of separation and virtual reality, it is up to us to create ways to make these days unique. Without even attending classes on-campus yet, I have learned that no days in college have to be the same. I may be logging onto the same computer each day, but the world inside of that screen is ever-changing. It goes without saying that the world of virtual cinema, and everything else that comes with FLEFF, will always hold something new- especially this year.

As someone who loves film, writing, and all that comes with it, I am so honored to be a part of FLEFF on its 24th anniversary, and I am especially looking forward to taking part in this new beginning as the festival takes its platform 100% virtual. 

One of the leaders of this festival, Dr. Patricia Zimmermann, once told me something to the effect of, “It’s impossible to know what you’re going to do in life because it is never a clear, straight path.” The pandemic surrounding us surely reflects this statement and almost all of our lives at the current moment. Since we are all just trying to push forward with a very faint idea of who or what we’re going to be or do, why not take advantage of this time of new beginnings? 

I am exhilarated to take part in a festival that has no boundaries with people who have an imagination that knows no limits.