Media Arts Program

Monday, October 14 at 12:15 p.m.

Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF)
October 11–14, 2019

Still from Decade of Fire. Still from Playing Hard. Still from Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America. Billy Brown in Working Man. Still from The Cunning Man. Still from Vanilla. Kelsa Bauman in Vanilla.

These listings are only the films screening at Hallwalls. Other locations are the North Park Theatre, Squeaky Wheel, and Burchfield Penney Art Center. A full schedule, festival passes, and individual tickets are available at the BIFF web site.

Directors Vivian Vázquez Irizarry (Decade of Fire, 12:15 p.m.) and Robert Jury (Working Man, 6:00 p.m.) and actress Talia Shire (Working Man) will be present in Hallwalls Cinema for Q&A's at their respective screenings on this closing day of BIFF 2019. Talia Shire, of course, starred in her brother's Godfather films as "Connie Corleone" and the Rocky films as "Adrian."

12:15 p.m.
Decade of Fire (Gretchen HildebranVivian Vázquez Irizarry, & Julia Steele Allen2019, 75 min., WNY Premiere)

Bronx-born co-directors Vivan Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran, with Julia Steele Allen, weave a personal history of the borough in the 1970s when, abandoned by city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multi-ethnic neighborhood burned—reducing the community to rubble, and igniting conflict and blame. Vázquez Irizarry will be present for an in-person Q&A, along with South Bronx native and PUSH Buffalo Field Organizing Manager Christian Parra.

Read about Decade of Fire here.

"Co-directed by Bronx native Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, who serves as the film's central character, Decade of Fire confronts the racially charged stereotypes that dehumanized residents of the South Bronx in the 1970s and rationalized their abandonment by city, state and federal governments. Says Vivian, 'Growing up in the South Bronx, I often heard that we were the reason our neighborhoods turned to rubble and ruin. After years of seeing outsiders lay claim to our stories, I needed to tell my own.'

"In Decade of Fire, Vivian speaks to neighbors and historians and digs into city archives, uncovering evidence of years of political policies that led to the devastation, beginning with 'redlining' in the 1930s—a policy in which any Black and/or Puerto Rican neighborhood was classified as 'declining,' leading banks and insurance companies to step away from investing and insuring. Slum clearance projects in Manhattan flooded the borough with displaced tenants, over-filling the Bronx's already decaying housing stock. While many of the Bronx's long-time Irish, Italian, and Jewish residents fled to the suburbs, Blacks and Puerto Ricans were often denied mortgages. Many landlords sold their buildings to speculators who found it more lucrative to burn them for the insurance than maintain them. The city's financial crisis of the 1970s was the final straw, leading to the closing of a third of the city's fire companies, primarily in the neighborhoods that needed them most."

2:00 p.m.
Playing Hard (Kinga Debska, 2019, 88 min., Poland, WNY Premiere)
The worlds of a prosecutor, a surgeon, and a student collide in Kinga Debska's gripping drama.

4:00 p.m.
Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America (Tom Sheppard, 2019, 81 min., NY Premiere) Focusing on the untold stories of LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution in their home countries to resettle in the U.S., Tom Sheppard's timely documentary tells their stories against the backdrop of a changing U.S. political landscape. Festivals: San Francisco.

with short Lolo (Leandro Goddinho & Paulo Menezes, 2019, 13 min., Germany)
In this coming-of-age story, 10-year-old Lolo has a crush on Max, but Max isn't sure he wants to go public about their crush at that night's dance. Max feels Lolo is “gay-gay” and that he's “less-gay.”

6:00 p.m.
Working Man (Robert Jury, 2019, 108 min., WNY Premiere)
An act of civil disobedience by a life-long employee (Peter Gerety) of a recently closed plastic factory gives hope to his rustbelt community in Robert Jury's moving drama. Co-starring Talia Shire and Billy Brown. Director Robert Jury and the film's co-star Talia Shire (Godfather films, Rocky films) will be present.

with The Cunning Man (Zoe Dobson, 13 min., UK, NY Premiere)
BAFTA-winner Zoe Dobson directs this enchanted tale of compassion in the face of callous greed.

8:15 p.m.
Vanilla (Will Dennis, 87 min., NY Premiere)
In this comical exploration of life working in the gig economy, a fledgling comedian (Kelsa Bauman) sets out on a cross-country road trip to sell a van with a struggling tech entrepreneur.