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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
Panel discussion with director Giulia Bertoluzzi on March 2, 12 p.m. EST

Director: Giulia Bertoluzzi, 2018

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.

The film is in French and Arabic, with English subtitles. Running time: 55 minutes

The River and the Wall

Streaming from March 19 through March 25
March 23, 12 p.m. EST: Panel with cast member Heather Mackey

Director: Ben Masters 2019, the cast includes alumna Heather Mackey '10

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. Running time: 1 hr 37 minutes

Wild Relatives

Streaming from April 9 through April 15
Panel details to come

Director: Jumana Manna, 2018

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. Running time: 64 minutes