By Stephanie Tokasz, March 23, 2021
A discussion of 5 featured films and their associated talkbacks.

5 Talkbacks to Check Out

FLEFF Laurel

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.

As you press the link that opens the virtual talkback on the film you viewed the previous night, several small boxes take form one after the other across your computer monitor. Before you can even turn on your camera, a welcome message appears in the chat.

You’ve just entered the world of virtual talkbacks that consist of several filmmakers, activists, archivists, and scholars providing valuable insights from around the globe.

Here are five talkbacks associated with films that examine several different themes and issues that you surely don’t want to miss:

We Tell: Body Publics (Saturday, March 27th at 1:00 pm)

Body Publics includes pieces that center around controversial issues surrounding public health and sexualities. These pieces unpack how the amount of access to healthcare affects people across many identities, and what institutions help or hurt this access. They also explore the concerns and celebrations of the LGBTQIA community.

This documentary emphasizes one’s control over their body and health, and an archivist, activist, and scholar come together to analyze this idea and offer insights on the significance of participatory community media and the archiving of work.

Adam and Skies of Lebanon (Sunday, April 4th at 1:00 pm)

The talkback of Adam and Skies of Lebanon will be combined because both are feminist films that can be compared and contrasted. Adam tells the story of a mother and daughter in North Africa who allow a pregnant stranger into their home, which eventually offers all of them a new outlook on life. Skies of Lebanon centers around the story of a young girl in the 1950s Middle East who falls in love with an astrophysicist, but an emerging civil war soon threatens their bliss.

Both of these feminist films accent the lives of two women facing life-changing experiences, and multiple scholars will discuss the power of the women filmmakers behind the screen as well as the moving performances of the characters onscreen.

Conviction (Saturday, April 3rd at 7:00 pm)

Conviction is a collaborative feature documentary that was made in collaboration with women in a prison in Nova Scotia and decarceration advocates. The story is mostly told through the eyes of the women going in and out of prison, and it aims to answer the question: what would the women inside the prison have needed from society in order to not end up there?

This documentary focuses on envisioning alternatives to prison, and two of the co-directors, alongside at least one of the women featured in the film, will discuss the ambitious rebuild of society focused on throughout the documentary.

Charlatan (Saturday, April 10th at 1:00 pm)

The plot of Charlatan is based on the true story of a 20th-century herbal healer who cured hundreds of people, including celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras, by using plant-based remedies. However, he also had a desire for cruelty and sadism that only his assistant can terminate. This is all occurring as a trial lurks in the background that could possibly reveal his secrets and determine his fate.

This film tells the story of a man whose life choices teetered between good and evil, and several scholars will discuss the twists and turns of the film as well as the context behind films made in the Czech Republic.

One Says No (Sunday, April 11th at 7:00 pm)

One Says No is a raw documentary that tells about the expansion of Chinese cities into the residences of those living in the countryside, all in an effort to achieve economic growth. Many residents will leave without resistance even though they often have nowhere to go, but one man refuses to.

This Chinese film delves into an ongoing issue that is often censored by the government, and the director of the documentary, another documentary film director, a translator, and a scholar join forces to discuss what happens when one says no to this corrupt system.

The above suggestions are by no means exhaustive. There are multiple other screenings that also include a talkback and a few that do not, but I recommend you look further into each sensational option. Hopefully, each of the suggested talkbacks above can provide you with some advice to answer the crucial question: how can I get the most fulfilling experience from FLEFF this year?