By Stephanie Tokasz, February 9, 2021
A discussion of FLEFF's 2021 theme: INFILTRATIONS.



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 precipitation dripped down from the sky in the early morning hours and slowly permeated the soft soil that the buds were beginning to sprout from. Wait, hold up, that’s not the kind of infiltration you’re talking about?

The word “infiltration” can be a tricky one because most people think it has something to do with science. Although this is true, FLEFF is obviously going to be looking at it within a different context.

Before we go any further, let’s discuss the actual terminology of this year’s theme, INFILTRATIONS. Of course, I could just copy and paste the dictionary definition here, but I think it might be better if I could describe it in the way that makes the most sense to me.

The term “infiltrations” can be described as the process by which one thing gradually becomes a part of another, sometimes in a secretive manner.

As a more relevant example, let’s relate this to FLEFF.

1. I infiltrate FLEFF.

As a first-year student at Ithaca College, this is the first year I am experiencing college as well as film festivals all from my home in western New York. After graduating high school and entering college in the middle of a pandemic, I still don’t plan to put my life on halt. At a time like this, it is key to stay safe and not endanger the lives of those around you, but it is also crucial to keep moving forward, exactly what FLEFF is attempting to do in its 24th year.

So, relating this back to the theme of this year, I am attempting to become a part of this year’s virtual film festival in a way so that I blend in and don’t disrupt any of the processes FLEFF has in place to ensure a smooth run.

2. FLEFF infiltrates virtual film festivals.

The standard for film festivals for the past several decades has been hosting in-person events that help to bring people together. Since FLEFF is a more curated festival that focuses on international art cinema as well as several other aspects outside film (art, photography, new media, etc.), it is a place where connections are meant to be formed. However, since going virtual allows for new ways of viewing, such as watching films at a convenient time and longer talkbacks, virtual events most likely won’t come between this festival’s sense of community.

In relation to this year’s theme of INFILTRATIONS, FLEFF is finding a way to carry on with its annual film festival and keep its sense of community, even though it is now virtual. The festival is also attempting to make the transition as smooth as can be, so everyone can enjoy the events and not be concerned with the behind-the-scenes systems set in place.

3. Virtual film festivals infiltrate the film industry.

Film festivals are a large part of the film industry because of the way they allow new filmmakers to possibly find a distributor for their film. Even though these viewings cannot be done in person this year, many new films are still going to receive a good amount of exposure through virtual viewings, and FLEFF is a perfect example of this. Even these challenging times cannot stop people from continuing forth with their creations, and therefore, the media created at the current time still has the opportunity of being a part of the film industry and reaching people around the globe.

Finally, relating this back to this year’s theme, virtual film festivals are becoming a part of the film industry, and since virtual viewings still give films and other media proper exposure, virtual film festivals could possibly be here to stay.

Therefore, the 24th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival’s theme of INFILTRATIONS may really be onto something. Even though the pandemic won’t be here forever, through all of its horrible effects, it may have shown us just how pivotal virtual film festivals can be. 

Who knows, maybe the world of virtual film festivals will continue to infiltrate the world of in-person film festivals beyond what is originally expected?