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Blackbird Film Festival on campus May 19 to 22

The Blackbird Film Festival returns to the SUNY Cortland campus and the greater Cortland community May 19 to 22.

The eighth annual festival, which is free to attend, will feature 136 films in 13 thematic blocks. The festival will include 71 films made by women writers or directors, 32 by Black, indigenous and people of color writers or directors and 30 by LGBTQ+ writers or directors.

Filmmakers from across the globe submitted a total of 1,196 films to Blackbird’s judges. The festival is directed by Samuel Avery, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of communication and media studies, and its staff includes many young alumni and student interns.

Most screening blocks will be held in Old Main Brown Auditorium, although the festival is also holding additional VIP events at downtown locations such as BRU64, the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House and Hollywood Restaurant.

A full schedule of events is available online.

“We’re excited to be back,” Avery said. “We’ve been off campus since 2020 and it feels like a lifetime ago that we ran this festival in Brown (Auditorium). So we’re excited, and a bit anxious too.”

Thematic blocks for the 2022 festival include:

  • In Loving Memory: Films about the grieving process and how we all find ways to remember the ones we loved.
  • Lyrical, Satirical, Political: A mash-up of musicals, poems and satires that comment on the status of the world’s many problems.
  • Brother’s Keeper: A collection of short films featuring characters who must account for their sibling in one way or another.
  • Rhythm and Vibe: A first for the festival, a music video screening party will be held at BRU64 on Main St. in Cortland at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 20.
  • Friday Night Feels: A series of dramatic and emotional shorts.
  • Material World: Poetic documentaries, animations and science fiction thrillers about the things that make up our world.
  • Micro Madness: A block of more than 20 films that are all under three minutes in length.

“This is Not a War Story,” a full-length feature drama by actor and director Talia Lugacy and executive produced by Rosario Dawson, will be screened at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 15 at the Center for the Arts in Homer. The film explores the lives of combat veterans in New York City whose anti-war art, poetry and papermaking brings them together despite the challenges they face in healing from that trauma.

A detailed film guide with trailers, run times, production and cast information is available online.

SUNY Cortland alumni and student interns with ties to this year’s event include: Cloe King, social media director; Mitch Ensman, director of event operations; and Shannon Delaney, Andy Fauvelle, Nolan Harpp, Amanda Lerch, Alyssa Marley, Madison Napoli and Owen Parseghian.

“These are all-star interns from years back before COVID,” Avery said, noting that students helped turn the festival into a drive-in and outdoor event at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in 2020 and 2021. “Blackbird would never have survived (the COVID-19 pandemic) if it wasn’t for the grit of these former interns.”

In addition to film screenings, Blackbird will hold several other events in the community throughout the weekend, such as a paint and sip, a panel discussion on independent film distribution and an award ceremony. Some of these events require tickets and fees. More information is available online.

Learn more about the 2022 Blackbird Film Festival at