1 June 2023 • Faculty Shafer Helps Produce 26th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

FLEFF is one of the world’s longest running environmental film festivals.

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), which celebrated its 26th anniversary in 2023, featured 26 films from around the globe, including 18 screening conversations and panels with activists, archivists, filmmakers and scholars, three concerts, 10 live talkbacks and three silent films with live music at Cinemapolis in Ithaca. The festival also hosted a roundtable on plants, food and the African American community, an international new media art exhibition and three book launches. In total during the three-week schedule in March and April, more than 100 speakers, activists, artists, filmmakers, musicians and scholars presented or performed.

As Associate Producer and Associate Programmer, HWS Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer produced the festival’s virtual events. She programmed speakers, organized sessions, ran tech and hosted events, which put her in conversation with filmmakers, writers and activists from around the globe including interactive filmmakers working on creating polyphonic documentaries and a collaborative of filmmakers and activists working to restore the voices of Native Americans using new “tribesourced” narrations on educational films from the past.

Shafer's connection to FLEFF goes back to her time as a graduate student when she was the marketing assistant during the festival’s inaugural year. This year, she moderated a panel on street art and the visual politics of crisis as part of her ongoing role as a co-Director of the Conversations Across Screen Cultures speaker series, which partners with FLEFF. Her experimental documentary, Declaration of Sentiments Wesleyan Chapel, was featured in the festival’s new media exhibition in 2015.

“I continue to be inspired by the energy generated by FLEFF,” she says. “Getting to assist in sharing ideas and provocations with a global audience and with HWS students is sincerely thrilling.”

At HWS, Shafer teaches courses that explore the culture and history of media, including television, film, advertising and the internet. A faculty member since 2008, she was awarded the faculty prize for teaching in 2018. She holds an A.B., M.A. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and has taught at Ithaca College and for the Bard Prison Initiative, where she served as campus coordinator.

Shafer has published chapters in several anthologies including The 25 Sitcoms that Changed Television: From I Love Lucy to Modern FamilyReFocus: The Films of John HughesWriting About MediaFeminist Interventions in Digital Pedagogy, and the recent Routledge Medical Media Handbook. Her criticism has been widely published and anthologized and appears in journals including FLOW: A Critical Forum on Television and Media CultureAfterimage and Film Criticism. Her scholarship on media studies pedagogy has appeared in The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and Teaching Media Quarterly, and she was a guest-editor for a volume of Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier.