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Cornell University

Migrations Film Series, Spring 2021

The Migrations initiative will be showing three films through Cornell Cinema during the spring 2021 semester. The films touch on multiple migrations issues and illustrate the significance of a multi-species approach to Migrations. Each film will be available to stream for one week, followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker.

Strange Fish

Streaming from February 26 through March 4

Set primarily in Zarzis, Tunisia, and the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Strange Fish tells the story of Tunisian fishermen who have been rescuing migrants and recovering the dead along the world's deadliest migration route since the early 2000s. The film’s title, a reference to Billie Holiday’s "Strange Fruit," links the deaths of African migrants en route to Europe and the lynching of African Americans. In Strange Fish, as the camera moves between images of the sea, fishing livelihoods, and shipwrecks, viewers learn how local fishermen have been affected by and responded to this violence, including their work to maintain a migrant cemetery.

Panel Discussion

March 2, 12 p.m. (EST)

  • Giulia Bertoluzzi, Director of Strange Fish
  • Amade M'charek, Professor of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam
  • Eleanor Paynter, Postdoctoral Associate in Migrations with Cornell's Einaudi Center for International Studies
  • Moderator: Natasha Raheja, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

The River and the Wall

Streaming from March 19 through March 25

The River and the Wall follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1,200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down the U.S.-Mexico border. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.

The film is in English, with occasional Spanish subtitled in English.

Panel Discussion

March 23, 12 p.m. (EST)

  • Heather Mackey, Cast Member, Field Biologist, and Conservation Researcher
  • Debra Castillo, Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University
  • Sergio Garcia-Rios, Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Latina/o Studies, Cornell University
  • Moderator: John W. Kennedy, PhD Candidate in Romance Studies

Wild Relatives

Streaming from April 9 through April 15

Deep in the earth beneath the Arctic permafrost, seeds from all over the world are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to provide a backup should disaster strike. Wild Relatives starts from an event that has sparked media interest worldwide: in 2012 an international agricultural research center was forced to relocate from Aleppo to Lebanon due to the Syrian Revolution turned war, and began a laborious process of planting their seed collection from the Svalbard back-ups. Following the path of this transaction of seeds between the Arctic and Lebanon, a series of encounters unfold a matrix of human and non-human lives between these two distant spots of the earth. The film captures the articulation between this large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, carried out primarily by young migrant women. The meditative pace patiently teases out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change, and biodiversity, witnessed through the journey of these seeds.

The film is in Arabic, Norwegian, and English, with English subtitles. 

Panel Discussion

April 13, 12 p.m. (EST)

  • Rachel Bezner Kerr, Professor in Global Development at Cornell University
  • Johanna Sellman, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University
  • Moderator: Amr Leheta, PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University
  • Moderator: Eleanor Paynter, postdoctoral associate in Migrations with the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies