LEWISTON — The Bates Film Festival has announced its schedule for the 2019 festival, scheduled to take place Nov. 6-10. The festival features 25 films and one locally based virtual reality title that will screen across five days. All events are free and open to the public. More information about the slate of films as well as the schedule can be found on the festival’s website: www.bates.edu/bff.

“It is a thrill for us to bring these nationally — and internationally — recognized films to campus, and screen them in settings that are free and open to the public,” said Jonathan Cavallero, BFF founding director and associate professor of Rhetoric, Film and Screen Studies. “We are looking forward to the conversations they generate in the Bates, Lewiston/Auburn and larger Maine community, especially since many of the films have not previously played in the state.”

The festival is an outgrowth of Cavallero’s “Film Festival Studies” course, a seminar in the Rhetoric, Film and Screen Studies Department. “As soon as they enroll in the class, students become board members of the Bates Film Festival,” Cavallero said, “They are involved in every aspect of the festival’s planning and execution from crafting the mission statement and raising funds to selecting films and promoting the event.”

A team of 22 students and Cavallero served as the festival programming board. They were guided by a student-created mission statement that emphasized social justice. “Our mission statement lays the groundwork for what we want to achieve through the films that we program,” Julia Gutterman, a senior majoring in Rhetoric and German, said, “First and foremost, this is the Bates Film Festival and with social justice being such a crucial facet of what Bates College stands for, it felt most appropriate for us to focus on that with our film selections. Film festivals are a wonderful opportunity to provide a platform for stories not typically shared from voices that may have been silenced before and we want to emulate that with what we are screening.”

“For me, the planning of the festival has been an experience unlike any other at Bates,” said Andrew Berg, a senior majoring in Economics and minoring in Rhetoric, “The festival has added to my Bates education by allowing me to apply what I have learned in the classroom to concrete, real-world situations. The critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills learned in other classes are consistently exercised in the festival planning process — something that I find incredibly valuable. “

“This represents a lot of great work at Bates,” said Mike Perrault, director of the Maine Film Center and the Maine International Film Festival said. “Such an undertaking exposes students (and their audiences) to a diverse range of cinematic works and storytelling from around the world. It’s heartening to see Maine youth develop talent, skills, and interest in promoting arts and culture.”


The festival will kick off on Wednesday, Nov. 6, with a focus on Bates filmmakers. A block of three shorts by recent Bates alums will screen at 4 p.m. followed by a panel discussion on the history of film study at the college. At 7 p.m., the festival will screen Elizabeth Rynecki’s “Chasing Portraits.” Rynecki will be in attendance to take questions. All events take place in 104 Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

Thursday, Nov. 7, begins with a virtual reality screening of “A Shared Space — Lewiston” in Chase Hall B18 from 1pm to 3pm. Shot in the city, the immersive 360-degree experience follows two individuals who were raised in a refugee camp in eastern Kenya but now call Lewiston home.

At 4 p.m., a block of four documentary shorts — including the Lewiston premiere of David Shayne and Jacob Roberts’ “Lewiston,” a film that chronicles the relationship between various ethnic and racial groups in the city — will be shown in 104 Olin Arts Center. At 8 p.m., “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” screens in Schaeffer Theatre, 329 College St.

Friday, Nov. 8, features a full day of programming on the topic of borders and boundaries. “The Feeling of Being Watched” (10 a.m.), “Midnight Traveler” (1:30 p.m.), “Woman at War” (5:15 p.m.), and “Ms. Purple” (7:30 p.m.) will all screen in 104 Olin Arts Center. A panel on the topic of borders and boundaries will take place at 4 p.m. in 104 Olin Arts Center and will feature visiting filmmakers, Bates faculty and other Maine community members.

Saturday, Nov. 9, kicks off with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s autobiographical drama “Farming,” starring Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Akinnuoye-Agbaje has recorded a short video for the occasion.

A block of narrative and animated shorts plays at 1:30 p.m. and “Changing the Game” screens at 5 p.m., with Sarah Rose Huckman, one of the subjects of the film, in attendance. A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of representing difference will take place at 3:45 p.m. and will feature filmmakers, activists and members of the Bates and greater Maine communities. All Saturday events take place in 104 Olin Arts Center.


Sunday, Nov. 10 begins with a screening of “Always in Season” at 1:30 p.m. in 104 Olin Arts Center, with filmmaker Jacqueline Olive in attendance. At 5:30 p.m., a dinner and a movie event will conclude the festival. A screening of “Tazzeka,” a film about a young Moroccan man who dreams of becoming a chef, will be accompanied by a buffet of Moroccan and Parisian food in Muskie Archives.

A brief description of the feature-length films follows:

“Always in Season” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, winning a special jury award for moral urgency. The film investigates the history of lynching in the US and tells the story of
Lennon Lacy, a young African American man, whose mysterious death in 2014 was ruled a suicide even though evidence suggests that he may have been lynched. Director Jacqueline Olive is scheduled to be in attendance.

“Changing the Game” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in May. It follows four transgender high school athletes who fight for acceptance in the sports that they love. The film currently
has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the athletes, Sarah Rose Huckman, a New Hampshire skier, is scheduled to be in attendance.

“Chasing Portraits” follows the journey of Bates graduate Elizabeth Rynecki as she tries to track down the artwork of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki, a Polish-Jewish artist who was killed in a concentration camp during World War II. Following his deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto and his murder, Rynecki’s paintings were lost, stolen, or otherwise dispersed. Rynecki, a first-time filmmaker and also the author of a book on the experience, is scheduled to return to Bates to screen the film.

“The Feeling of Being Watched,” a documentary feature supported by Maine’s own Points North Institute, follows filmmaker Assia Boundaoui as she uncovers a history of FBI surveillance in the
community where she grew up.


“Midnight Traveler” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and won a Special Jury Award for no borders. It follows the harrowing journey of a refugee family that flees persecution in Afghanistan for safety in Europe. Shot entirely on mobile phones, the film has been universally acclaimed, enjoying a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Farming,” written and directed by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and starring Kate Beckinsale, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Damson Idris, tells the filmmaker’s incredible true story. As a child, he was “farmed” out to a working-class British family by his Nigerian parents. After experiencing intense hatred, Akinnuoye-Agbaje became a key figure in a white supremacist group in the UK, before changing his ways.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” follows Jimmie Fails as he tries to reclaim a house that his grandfather built in now gentrifying San Francisco. The film stars Fails, Danny Glover, Mike Epps, Finn Whitrock, and Jonathan Majors, and is widely regarded as one of the best fiction films of the year. The film won the best director award in the US Dramatic category at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival as well as a special jury award for creative collaboration.

“Ms. Purple,” directed by acclaimed filmmaker Justin Chon, stars Tiffany Chu as Kasie, a young woman from a Korean-American family who negotiates an array of emotions as her elderly father lives his last days. Teddy Lee offers a strong supporting performance as Kasie’s brother, Carey.

“Tazzeka” tells the story of a young Moroccan man, played by Mahdi Belemlih, an aspiring chef who dreams of success in Paris. The film follows his journey as he becomes an undocumented
immigrant and chases his dream despite the legal and emotional obstacles that appear in his path.

“Woman at War” is an Icelandic film that follows Halla, an environmental activist who takes on the aluminum industry in her home country with acts of sabotage. This drama-comedy features a remarkable performance by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir and an edgy directorial style by Benedikt Erlingsson.

For more information, email [email protected] More information can also be found on the BFF website at: www.bates.edu/bff.

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