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Ithaca College's Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival 2011 to Feature a Community Visit by Arctic Filmmaker

ITHACA, NY — Thanks to a grant by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S., Ithaca College’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) will bring Alaskan wildlife photographer Arthur C. Smith III to Ithaca to visit three area schools and participate in a post-screening discussion of his documentary, “What Do Polar Bears Dream When They’re Dying?”

A native New Yorker now living on an island in the Arctic Ocean, Smith’s documentaries on Alaska’s polar bears have aired on “National Geographic Explorer” and the Discovery Channel’s “Expedition Alaska.”

On Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15, Smith will hold interactive dialogs at the New Roots School, Lehman Alternative Community School and South Hill Elementary School. Tailored to the age groups of the students, the sessions will explore the effects of development on polar bears and the Arctic landscape. Students will also have a chance to ask Smith about his career as a wildlife photographer and filmmaker and what it’s like to live above the Arctic Circle. To highlight discussions about the environmental challenges of photographing animals, Smith will show excerpts from two of his films, “Ice Bears of Beaufort” and “What Do Polar Bears Dream When They’re Dying?”

On Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m., Smith will attend the East Coast premiere of “What Do Polar Bears Dream When They’re Dying?” at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca. An exploration of how the toxins that are killing polar bears are also killing people, the film is one of the 62 downtown screening offered during FLEFF 2011. Smith’s film, however, is the only one that is free and open to the public. After the screening, Smith will participate in a discussion moderated by Patricia Zimmermann, codirector of FLEFF and professor of cinema, photography and media arts.

“The theme this year for FLEFF is checkpoints,” Zimmermann said. “It embodies the idea of a border, event or situation that causes us to cross over to someplace new. With its exploration of polar bears as a checkpoint in the Arctic, Arthur Smith’s film eloquently exemplifies the Checkpoints theme.”

Lasting from April 10 to 17, FLEFF 2011 will feature more than 50 guests, 75 screenings, concerts, panels, meet-ups, symposia, workshops and 62 screenings at Cinemapolis; as well as labs, readings, live music and workshops. The events will take place on the Ithaca College campus, Cinemapolis, Delilah’s restaurant, Buffalo Street Books and Cornell University. All events on the Ithaca College campus are free and open to the public. The screenings at Cinemapolis will require admission fees.

A complete list of topics, featured guests and events is available at

Launched in 1997 as an outreach project from Cornell University’s Center for the Environment, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival was moved permanently to Ithaca College in 2005. 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, contact Patricia Zimmermann at or Tom Shevory at