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Things to Do, Feb. 10-17, 2017

Media Contact

Melissa Osgood

Where we began

The annual Darwin Days celebration in Ithaca, Feb. 12-18, explores what it means to be human, how humans evolved in the past and are evolving now, and major points on the human evolutionary timeline.

Darwin Days 2017: Exploring Human Evolution” is presented by the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in conjunction with an ongoing three-month series of events and exhibitions, “Ithaca Explores Human Origins,” cosponsored with Cornell and Tompkins County Public Library.

Darwin Days events include a Cinemapolis screening of “Inherit the Wind,” Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.; and a free panel discussion and Q&A on the evolution of social behavior with Cornell and Ithaca College faculty, including Cornell anthropologist Tom Volman, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at the History Center of Tompkins County.

Paleomalacologist and PRI/Museum of the Earth director Warren Allmon discusses the artistic and scientific history of attempts to depict early hominids in a Science Cabaret event, “Ancient Faces: The Art of Showing Human Evolution,” Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Coltivare, 235 S. Cayuga St., Ithaca. The program is free and open to all ages.

Of Oscars and alumni

Cornell Cinema is showing every one of 2016’s Oscar-nominated short films this month, leading up to a live Oscar party during the ceremony Feb. 26 in the Willard Straight Hall Bear’s Den.

Oscar Shorts: Animation” will screen in Willard Straight Theatre Feb. 10 at 5 p.m., Feb. 11 at 9:45 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m. All tickets are $5.50 for the Friday and Sunday screenings. Nominated live action shorts will screenFeb. 10 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 12 at 1:45 (all tickets $5.50 on Sunday) and short documentaries will screen Feb. 21 in two parts, for one admission price.

Also screening: Cornell Alums Make Movies, with a digital restoration of “The Wanderers” (1977, based on the novel by Richard Price ’71), Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., and free screenings Feb. 17 – the first two episodes of HBO’s “The Night Of” (co-created by Price) at 5 p.m., the LBJ biopic “All the Way” (adapted for HBO by Robert Schenkkan, MFA ’77, from his play) at 8 p.m., and in-between, a Q&A via Skype with producer Scott Ferguson ’82 and a reception.

Expert writing advice

Writer and editor Manjula Martin offers advice for writers Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. in the English Department Lounge, 258 Goldwin Smith Hall. The “Shop Talk” event, sponsored by the Department of English Creative Writing Program, is free and open to the public and includes catered refreshments.

Martin is managing editor of “Zoetrope: All-Story” magazine. She edited the new anthology “Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living,” with essays by writers including Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed and Jonathan Franzen; founded the blog Who Pays Writers? and founded and edited Scratch, an online magazine about the business of being a writer.

Her writing has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Pacific Standard, SF Weekly, Aeon, The Billfold, The Toast and other publications.

Matzo as tradition

The Jewish Studies Program and Cornell Cinema present a screening and discussion of “Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream,” Feb. 13 at 7:15 p.m. in Willard Straight Theatre. Admission is free and open to the public.

The film is about the final year of the last matzo bakery on New York City’s Lower East Side. Director Michael Levine and Near Eastern studies and Jewish studies lecturer (and Lower East Side expert) Elissa Sampson will discuss the film – a story of tradition and resilience, a factory running since 1925 and a piece of living history, and a family committed to their heritage and their employees.

Power and resistance

Civic Ensemble will remount its 2016 production of Athol Fugard’s “My Children! My Africa!” for four performances Feb. 16-18 at the Kitchen Theatre Company, 417 W. State St., Ithaca. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. nightly with a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 18.

Danielle Stoffregen/Provided
Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. portrays a South African teacher in Civic Ensemble's "My Children! My Africa!" at Kitchen Theatre.

In the play, a teacher helps a black boy and a white girl prepare for an academic competition in segregated South Africa as conflict surrounds them during the anti-apartheid movement.

“It is about the nature of confrontation and resistance. Passive resistance has always been the preferred way for movements to happen – for people in power,” said Civic Ensemble artistic director Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., a visiting lecturer in performing and media arts who plays Mr. M. “What the play asks is, is education, empathy and dialogue enough to get us through what is essentially a power struggle where one side has all of the power.”

Directed by Melanie Dreyer, the play also stars recent Ithaca College graduates Jelani Pitcher and Brianna Ford as the students. All were involved in staging the play at Lehmann Alternative Community School last August, as were the production team including Cornell and Ithaca College alumni and faculty. The Ithaca Journal called it “a profound theatrical and political experience.”

Tickets are $25, available online or by calling the box office at 607-273-0403. In keeping with Civic Ensemble’s mission to keep theater accessible for all, lower cost tickets are available by contacting Sarah K. Chalmers at or 607-241-0195.

Film festival competition

The Centrally Isolated Film Festival (CIFF), an annual competition sponsored by the Department of Performing and Media Arts, is accepting submissions from student filmmakers in central and upstate New York.

The deadline for entries is March 1. Selected films will be screened at the festival, April 14-15 at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. Cash prizes of $200 will be awarded to the winners in narrative, documentary, experimental and audience award categories.

Early submissions are free until Feb. 21; after that date there is a $10 fee. Email submissions to (YouTube or Vimeo links, Dropbox files and other formats are accepted). For complete details on the competition and a submission checklist, see the official CIFF website.

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