Caveh Zahedi's How To Overthrow The US Government (Legally) is featured in this year's Buffalo International Film Festival
Caveh Zahedi's How To Overthrow The US Government (Legally) is featured in this year's Buffalo International Film Festival

COVID can't kill BIFF: the Buffalo International Film Festival moves online

by / Oct. 4, 2020 10pm EST

Movie theaters may or may not be on a fast track to extinction, a possibility I never thought I would face in my lifetime. But movies are far from dead, and like those plants that force their way through the asphalt in your driveway, they will find a way to be seen.

Like most other film festivals, Buffalo International Film Festival, now in its 14th year, is moving (mostly) online. You may not be able to see BIFF presentations at the North Park, Hallwalls, or its other partner locations this week, but you don’t have to watch them all on your home screen: for two evenings you can view them at the Dark Alley Drive-in on Hertel Avenue. If you’re not familiar with the venue, it’s nothing more than the parking lot at the former K-Mart on Hertel at Delaware, a perfectly City of No Illusions-ish way of repurposing vacant space on the cheap.

Along with the Dark Alley screenings, for the price of a $40 pass you can see every festival offering on whatever streaming device you prefer at whatever time you prefer between October 8 through 12. Has a 8 pm showtime never suited your schedule? Watch it at 3 in the morning!  Is a 10 pm screening too late for you? Enjoy a movie with your coffee when you get up!

(And if you’re not all that interested but you just want to see that local movie that your cousin edited or your ex-girlfriend has a bit part in, there are cheaper options as well.)


Herein is BIFF’s informative press announcement. For more info and to purchase tickets visit BuffaloFilm.Org


September 23, 2020, Buffalo, NY – The 14th annual Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF), running from October 8th – 12th, announces that tickets are now on sale for the main film lineup, featuring many Western New York premieres.  Presented in a socially distanced, cinematically connected, virtual-first format, this year’s festival invites filmmakers and audiences to participate in the way that they feel most comfortable.

In addition to a wide array of virtual film offerings to be watched at the leisure of the ticket holder during the festival period, pre-recorded and live-streamed filmmaker Q&As, panels and performances, as well as installations at local art spaces, the 2020 festival will also include two evenings of screenings at the Dark Alley Drive-in on Hertel Avenue. This year’s festival showcases over 100 films, shorts and episodic series from 20 countries, with over 100 film delegates from across the globe participating!

Tickets on sale now at Films screening in the online festival will be available to watch from October 8-12th, and viewers will have 48-hour watch window from purchase/unlock.

Audiences will be able to screen BIFF films on their computers, mobile devices and smart TVs with screen casting or the Eventive TV app for Roku and Apple TV. This year BIFF will offer three affordable, flat-fee options for virtual viewing — $8/Individual screenings, $17/Triptychet (three screenings) and the unlimited Bison Pass (all virtual festival screenings and events, and one $20 drive-in ticket for $40).  Drive-in tickets are $20/car load. One car per transaction.  BIFF is also partnering with the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York and participating in their Arts Access Program to offer free tickets to community members enrolled in the program.


Announced Centerpiece Titles:

Arthouse Centerpiece – The Vasulka Effect, directed by Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttirby

Video art pioneers Steina and Woody Vasulka struggle with finances, an extensive archive and a legacy spanning decades across multiple cities and continents. This documentary traces their life and work from Iceland to NYC, to Buffalo, to Santa Fe and back again. From  the ‘second renaissance’ celebrating the decentralization of media and revolution against censorship, to the present day – this intimate portrait explores what it means to be a media maker in an ever-changing, technological world.


WNY Centerpiece — Runaway, directed by Meg Knowles

Buffalo-based filmmaker Meg Knowles retraces the steps of her sister, who in the summer of ‘73 ran away from an upscale New England summer camp, hitchhiking cross-country to California. Weaving a tale of teen angst gone off the rails, a mother’s patient desperation and a sister’s disbelief, Knowles’ warm, personal documentary begs the question: does retracing your steps heal old wounds or make new ones?


Regional Centerpiece — The Walrus and the Whistleblower, directed by Natalie Bibeau

St. Catherines-raised filmmaker Nathalie Bibeau’s award winning documentary follows Phil Demers, an ex-trainer at Niagara Falls, Ontario’s MarineLand who sets about to expose the park’s practices on social media and before the Canadian Senate, all while being sued by the park’s owners for $1.5 million for plotting to steal a walrus.


Arthouse Spotlight – Queer Genius, directed by Chet Catherine Pancak

Chet Catherine Pancake’s affectionate and intimate portrait of multiple generations of critically acclaimed and notoriously radical queer artists overcome personal and political obstacles to find new ways to think about and live their own “genius.” Featuring Barbara Hammer, Eileen Myles, Black Quantum Futurism, Moor Mother, and Dynasty Handbag / Jibz Cameron.


Additionally BIFF is proud to host the Western New York premieres of several New York State feature film productions including Tahara and United We Sing (filmed in Rochester) and Paper Spiders (filmed in Syracuse) as well as features by local filmmakers including Work and The Songpoet.






This year’s filmic programming will feature 15 Domestic + International Narratives, 16 Domestic + International Documentaries, and 9 Shorts Blocks.


BIFF Domestic + International Narratives


Beautiful Dreamer, Amy Glazer (Dir), East Coast Premiere, USA Screening with short film: A Dinner Party, Michèle Kaye (Dir), US Premiere, Canada

Cold Feet, Brad Ellis & Allen C. Gardner (Dir), NY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Black Hearts, Red Hands, Russell Southam (Dir), WNY Premiere, Australia

County Lines, Henry Blake (Dir), NY Premiere, UK

Fall Back Down, Sara Beth (SB) Edwards (Dir), US Premiere, Canada

Freeland, Kate McLean & Mario Furloni (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Hung Up,  Damon O’Steen (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

Go/Don’t Go, Alex Knapp (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Bodies, Jacob Anderson (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

How To Stop a Recurring Dream, Edward Morris (Dir), NY Premiere, UK Screening with short film: Two Winters, Anthony Saxe (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

La Fameuse Invasion des Ours en Sicile (The Bear’s Famous Invasion of Sicily), Lorenzo Mattotti (Dir), NY Premiere, France

Marcus, J.R. Poli (Dir), North East Premiere, USA

Paper Spiders, Inon Shampanier (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

Small Town Wisconsin, Niels Mueller (Dir), Special Presentation, USA

Tahara, Oliva Peace (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

Toprak, Sevgi Hirschhauser (Dir), NY Premiere, Turkey Screening with short film: alterSchädel, jonCates (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

Two Komachis, Takeshi Sone (Dir), WNY Premiere, Japan (Japanese with English subtitles) Screening with short film: Those Beautiful Moments, Vasily Chuprina (Dir), NY Premiere, Russia (Russian with English subtitles)

Up On The Glass, Kevin Del Principe (Dir), Special Presentation, USA Screening with short film: Treeline Lake, Sinah Ober (Dir), NY Premiere, USA




Determined: The Story of Holocost Survivor Avrahm Perlmutter, Keren Perlmutter (Dir), NY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Alina, Rami Kodeih (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

Disrupted, Sarah Colt (Dir), NY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Dear Georgina, Adam Mazo & Ben Pender-Cudlip (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

Higher Love, Hasan Oswald (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

How To Overthrow The US Government (Legally), Caveh Zahedi (Dir), North American Premiere, USA Screening with short film: The Deepest Hole, Matt McCormick (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

Landfall, Cecilia Aldorando,  (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA (Spanish with English subtitles)

No Bone: Scars of Survival, Mark Schiller (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

Queer Genius, Chet Catherine Pancake (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA

Runaway, Meg Knowles (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

The Songpoet, Paul Lamont (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

There’s No Place Like This Place Anyplace, Lulu Wei (Dir), US Premiere, Canada

United We Sing, Dan Petracca (Dir), World Premiere, USA

The Donut Dollies, Norm Anderson (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

The Grand Unified Theory of Everything, Charlie Hoxie (Dir), WNY Premiere, USA Screening with short film: Flag Country, Pamela Falkenberg & Jack Cochran (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

The Vasulka Effect, Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir (Dir), NY Premiere, Iceland

The Walrus and the Whistleblower, Nathalie Bibeau (Dir), NY Premiere, Canada Screening with short film: Sleepless Flight  Jeremey Cournyea (Dir), NY Premiere, USA

Work, Mani Mehrvarz (Dir), World Premiere, USA


BIFF Shorts Blocks:


BIFF Shorts: Danger Zone — OMG / WTF / NSFW / LMFAO movies.

BIFF Episodic -= BIFF’s ongoing screening series about ongoing stories.

BIFF Shorts: Global Docs — Nonfiction dispatches from Poland, Greenlad and Brazil.

BIFF Shorts: International Narratives — Stories from across the globe and into your home.

BIFF Shorts: Lost Connections — Films about those lost and found moments in life.

BIFF Shorts: Racial Justice in View  - Works exploring issues of race, colonialism, visibility, (in)justice and more.

BIFF Shorts: Students — Your first look at exciting new voices in cinema.

BIFF Shorts: WNY Stories — Celebrating unique perspectives, voices and stories from Western New York.

BIFF Shorts: Youth Block — The next generation of storytellers – exciting new voices and work by filmmakers under 18. Co-presented with Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, and curated by students enrolled in their youth education and workforce development pipelines.




“We’re excited to provide a safe, socially distanced platform for cinematic discovery and networking this year with over 100 films, shorts and webisodes. We’re committed to keeping what makes BIFF a special experience for our filmmakers and patrons while giving our audiences a little more time and space to discover our amazing official selections on a screen of their choosing during the festival weekend.” – Artistic Director, John J. Fink.