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Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival Announces Winners of 'Checkpoints Story Contest'

 ITHACA, NY — Pakistani author, blogger and consultant Ambreen Ishrat won first-place honors in the ‘Checkpoints Story Contest,” an international social media project sponsored by the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) and its collaborative partners Park Media Lab (USA) and EngageMedia (Indonesia). The judges — novelist Leslie Daniels and journalist and nonfiction writer Cherian George — also awarded honorable mentions to Americans Robert Danberg and Angela Wong; and Shelly Bhoil Sood, a citizen of India and Brazil. “Checkpoints Story Contest” featured fiction, nonfiction and poetry entries of fewer than 500 words that examined ways in which people and forces confront and encounter checkpoints, which can include crossings, borders, checkpoints and thresholds.

Ambreen Ishrat’s winning entry, “Migration and Moving beyond Borders,” can be read at /fleff/checkpointscontest/ambreen/. An author, blogger and consultant residing in Karachi, Ishrat is currently associated with Exploring Leadership & Learning Theories in Asia (ELLTA) and the Aga Khan University-Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED), where she is a consultant for research and academic editing.

Honorable mention honors went to:

  • “Woolworth’s,” a poem by Robert Danberg, a visiting assistant professor in the Binghamton University Writing Initiative, can be read online at /fleff/checkpointscontest/danberg/. Danberg’s poems have appeared in “Ploughshares,” “The Cortland Review” and other online and print publications
  • “Truth of a Common Uncle,” a poem by Shelly Bhoil Sood, is online at /fleff/checkpointscontest/shelly/. Sood’s poems have been featured in journals and magazines across the globe. She has taught at Delhi and Amity Universities in India
  • “You Speak,” a poem by Angela Wong, a cinema production and creative writing student at Ithaca College, is online at /fleff/checkpointscontest/ourland/. Wong is currently working on two documentaries and two short fictional films.

Judges for “Checkpoints Story Contest”

Leslie Daniels has published her writing in numerous literary journals, including “Ploughshares,” “The Missouri Review,” “New Ohio Review” and “The Santa Monica Review.” Her first novel, “Cleaning Nabokov’s House,” was recently published by Simon & Schuster.

Cherian George is the author of “Singapore: The Air Conditional Nation” and “Contentious Journalism and the Internet: Towards a Democratic Discourse in Malaysia and Singapore.” A former journalist for Singapore’s “Straights Times,” he is currently an associate professor of journalism and publishing in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Launched in 1997, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival was an outreach project from the Center for the Environment at Cornell University. In 2005 the festival moved permanently to Ithaca College, where it is housed in the Office of the Provost as a program to link intellectual inquiry and debate to larger global issues.

For more information, visit or contact Patricia Zimmermann, codirector of FLEFF and professor of cinema, photography and media arts at