Buffalo abounds with activist groups working to improve the city's problems with public health and safety, poverty and abandonment. But too often, the noble efforts of these many groups fly under the public radar.

That's where Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center's "Channels" comes in.

The innovative project, which pairs activist groups with documentary filmmakers, will have its fourth annual showing at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Burchfield Penney Art Center auditorium.

This year's four films, each about 20 minutes, "focus on serious issues negatively affecting our city today [and] emphasize the grass-roots efforts of people who are committed to the betterment of their neighborhoods," according to a release.

The first is "Reclamation" by John Fink, a University at Buffalo master of fine arts student who worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection to capture the work of its pastor and congregation to lift up a struggling neighborhood.

Next up is "Living in the Shadow of the Bridge" by Mark Barner, which charts the ups and downs of living in the Columbus Park neighborhood as debates over the expansion of the Peace Bridge have raged on over the years. To produce the film, Barner partnered with the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association and the Buffalo West Side Environmental Defense Fund to explore the neighborhood's concerns with the fluctuating quality of life, property values and health concerns related to the bridge traffic and the controversy over expansion.

In "Everybody Lives Downstream," filmmaker Anna Scime, also in the UB MFA program, plumbs the depths of the Buffalo River and its subjection to man-made interference and ongoing efforts to remediate past damage to the river. It was made in partnership with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, an organization charged with "protecting and restoring the quality and quantity" of Western New York's waterways.

The program will wrap up with "You Are Where You Live," Vincent Mistretta's look at the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York's "fight for the people's right to a healthy environment."

This "Channels" program, which is funded in large part by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, will also feature a Q&A session with the filmmakers and representatives from each activist organization following the screening.



WHO: "Channels: Stories From the Niagara Frontier"
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.
INFO: 884-7172 or