About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Phil Wilde, vice president of Insights International, Inc. fell in love when he was a college student at Cornell University in 1970. That year, he picked up a Portapak camera for the first time and began recording everything. Film became his addiction.
Since 1970, Wilde has helped develop small video organizations in Ithaca, has worked at Insights International Inc., and has worked for Ithaca College several times as lecturer. His most recent collaboration with the college has been through his involvement with Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
EG: How did you first discover film?
PW: It’s an addiction. Honestly, it’s just like heroin. I had my first hit of video in 1970. I borrowed a Portapak, it was the first thing that I could get my hands on where I could actually have the freedom of expression in television. Film was too expensive to produce. I was a student; I couldn’t afford film to run through a camera, but I could to borrow a video camera from Cornell University’s library, and go out for the very first time — these were the first portable cameras that ever existed — and go out and film something that was a subject I was interested in. So I got an addiction to being able to tell my story with video and I was lucky enough to come along at the time when it was first invented. I was a sophomore in college, I was just 18.
EG: Why is it important to have festivals like FLEFF somewhere like Ithaca, a college town?
PW: The problem with most film festivals is that they are mostly involved in selling the films. In other words, the film festival is a place where the filmmaker comes and presents his or her work. They bring their stuff here and try to get a distributor or whatever it might be, that is the typical film festival. Or a film festival is meant to try to promote a certain place. The first film festivals where Paris and Italy and Rome and they were meant to promote Rome and not necessarily the film, but what Ithaca College brings to it is a third way. It’s not just about the film, it’s not just about the place, it’s about the intellectual experience of the expression of film and the audience. The intellectual perspective that a college town and a college — and specifically Ithaca College — brings to it is to allow a dialogue that is an examination of the film not just a celebration.
EG: How are you involved behind the scenes at FLEFF?
PW: I teach people how to schmooze, how to go up to people and have a conversation and come out of it with something more than a pleasant conversation. In other words you never learn anything if you are talking, so I teach people how to listen to the people who come to FLEFF: the presenters, the people who bring their films, the people who are interested in film.
An awful lot of the [interns in FLEFF are] people who were in film or television or theater or parts of Ithaca College that are the performing and television radio arts and the best thing that you can do if you are a person like that is to learn how to talk to other people. So I showed people the ways to get the most out of that kind of experience at FLEFF. To enhance the students’ intellectual dialogue. Thats exactly what we do.
EG: What about FLEFF do you like the most?
PW: I just love the idea of having this experience right in my backyard. I travel all over to other festivals. I’ve got some favorite little ones that I always try to go to, but here it’s coming to me, and the other side of it too is an chance to offer what I’ve got inside me to this intellectual community. I’ve always thought of the educational side of video and film.
EG: What advice do you give students attending the festival?
PW: I think everyone should take the time to go up to the artists who are there and engage in a personal dialogue. I think that is the most incredible thing about FLEFF. Everybody should approach a filmmaker or a producer or somebody who has brought a film or somebody who speaks on a film at FLEFF, or somebody who’s been at FLEFF. Everyone, engage in a dialogue.
I know it’s as hard as asking a girl out. It’s just as hard to go up to most people and start a conversation, but it’s so worth it.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Sarah Lockwood is a junior Cinema and Photography major at Ithaca College, concentrating in Still Photography.
How many years have you been involved in FLEFF?
This is my second year with FLEFF, but not consecutively. As a freshman in 2012 I was an intern and a member of the blogging team. Last year I was on on campus during spring semester, however this year I have returned as a team leader.
Tell me one of your most memorable moments from being a FLEFF intern.
In 2012 FLEFF screened a film called "Beijing: Besieged By Waste" about China's garbage disposal and pollution issues. My brother had been living in China for the past year, and he was visiting me in Ithaca that same weekend. We were able to attend the screening together, and he shared with me his personal experiences in China that related to the film. It made the entire film viewing much more real and relatable.
Why did you apply to be a FLEFF team leader?
I enjoyed my experience so much the first time around that I couldn't wait to be a part of the festival again. However coming back for a second round, I wanted to be even more involved than before - I knew that as a team leader I'd know even more behind-the-scenes information, be able to help out the festival even more, and be able to guide interns through the festival just as someone had guided me my first go.
What do you bring to the table as a leader?
I feel like I can bring positive attitude and a dedication to getting things done. These together create a festival/team experience that is both fun a well as productive.
What are you hoping for most at this year's festival?
I'm hoping for more of the great moments I experienced at my previous festival: seeing tons of amazing films in a short period of time, being able to speak with the filmmakers as a fellow artist, and connecting with fellow interns who will be doing the same.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Blogging Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
I have never seen a more relaxing office. Taiwan- inspired tapestries, plants, and dragons cover the tops of the furniture. Soft, brown armchairs welcome me to the window, where a decorative cherry tree sits. Its pink- budded limbs obscure the gray cloud that has perpetually encased Ithaca College this winter.
Tucked away in the corner by her blue “zen fountain,” sits Dr. Virginia Mansfield- Richardson, Associate Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Running water trickles constantly in the background of our conversation about FLEFF.
Q: Can you elaborate on your involvement with registration and courses for FLEFF?
A: Once FLEFF came into the Park School, Dr. Zimmermann approached me and asked, 'What should we do?' And I said, 'Let's just put it under GCOM,' which stands for General Communications, 'and that can be its home.' I do the work that an associate dean would do; set course numbers up, opening up seats to students, and sending out the emails. So that's how I got involved in it, and I was quite frankly thrilled to be able to help out. For the mini courses that are offered, we put in 'FLEFF' followed by the title of the course so when students are searching, they can find the FLEFF courses easily. I enjoy doing it; it's my way of helping and making sure things get up smoothly.
Q: Do the mini-courses fill up quickly? Are they very popular?
A: The broad answer to that is yes, they're popular. The marketing of the whole FLEFF festival and the amount of work that has gone into it and helped it grow over the years, the amount of expertise that Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Shevory bring to it is marvelous.
Q: How are students made aware?
A: We put an announcement in Park News, the Intercom, and I believe there are posters up.
Q: How long have you been involved with FLEFF?
A: Indirectly since it started, but very involved in the past 3 or 4 years. My schedule is very full, but I do keep my eye on it all, and I read anything that comes out on it. I wish I had more time to go to it all.
Q: In your opinion, what is the best part about FLEFF?
A: I'll tell you my honest answer to that. I think the best part about FLEFF is the people who run it. FLEFF is so successful because we've got Dr. Zimmermann, Dr. Shevory, and Dr. Saunders really, really driving the train. And it is because of all that energy and expertise that it is known as broadly and widely as it is. I know just how much they put into it. I know how hard they work to make it what it is. Because of this, everything else that is the best part of the festival, happens. Ultimately, the best part about the festival is what the students and the community get out of it, but to me their expertise is what makes all the other successes happen. And I just can't say that enough. I have such respect for them and everyone else who are behind the scenes.
Q. What does this year's theme, dissonance, mean to you?
A: I look at it from angles of international, politics, social layers and interconnections within society and cultures. I think about the role of dissonance in political movements but I also think of it in an artistic sense, too— how you bring that about and really leave an impact on people. I think a great film changes a person's life forever. But it can change the course of a lot of lives by shaking things up, making things uncomfortable, and making sure that various voices get heard.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Blog post written by Haley Stearns, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’15, FLEFF Blogger, Buffalo, New York
Q: How long have you been working at IC?
A: Oh, let’s see. It’ll be a total of three years. My first year I was a dissertation fellow and then I was hired at a tenured track position so this May will be a total of 3 years that I have been here.
Q: After looking at your faculty profile on the IC website, I noticed that your current research is focused on HIV/AIDS, specifically in relation to people of African descent. Could you elaborate on your research?
A: My current research is at the intersection of rhetoric, religion, and difference. The project that I’m working on examines black church responses to HIV/AIDS across African diaspora. I wanted to find out what are the strategies that black religious leaders, who are on the front lines of addressing HIV/AIDS, using to address the epidemic. I wanted to tie the global with the local so that other religious leaders and interested individuals can learn from those strategies that I identify in my research. I also am trying to help fill a gap within current discourses on HIV.
Q: When did you first become involved with FLEFF?
A: This is my first year, so I’m still green.
Q: What originally inspired you to get involved with FLEFF?
A: I had some interest last year, but as a new faculty member, I was trying just to get stable in my department. I wanted to get involved because of the environmental aspect of it and just to be able, as a rhetorician, to look at the way that film could broach certain conversations, topics, and ideas, and to place those ideas in these mediated spaces in ways that may be more palatable to students.
Q: Based on your background in communication how do you think FLEFF promotes conversations about various issues and topics?
A: You know, there are underlying messages in film. So I think that it will be a good way to have conversations and dialogue about ideas and concepts that individuals otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. Today, very few people go to hear a speech given on a topic – we don’t predominantly receive information that way anymore, we just don’t. We watch movies, we read books, use the internet, and so it’s really a sight and sound generation and time period so I think that FLEFF is onto something when they’re showing these films.
Q: Would you encourage your students and students in general to attend FLEFF?
A: Absolutely. In a lot of my classes we try to deconstruct mediated messages to discover what are the underlying messages and what the implications of the messages are. To be able to do that and to say, why don’t you go look at this film during the festival, I think it’s incredibly valuable.
Q: How do you think this year's festival theme of dissonance will help to stimulate conversation?
A: That’s a good question. The class that I’m going to be teaching – the full title was called Rhetorical Bodies: Histories Preserved without Words, and I wrote down a little statement about the class because we’re talking about dissonance, you know things that clash and how they often can ignite something ingenious. So I’m going to be looking at black bodies across the diaspora at a time when on one hand it was a period marked by the denigration of black bodies, this less than human quality, but on the other hand you have blacks who only had their hands, bodies and voices as their source for determination. They had no land, but how they were able to stylize time and space and they were able to tell their stories through that. So on one hand it was oppression, and the other hand self-affirmation coming together to produce these beautiful styles of dance and stories that are being told along side the dance. So I think that students will be able to see that where there is dissonance there is always the potential for something beautiful to be created. And in terms of this class, where there is oppression, there is always resistance. Students will learn how to look those stories not written or preserved in word or written text. It’s there! One of the greatest ways that people give up their power is to think that they have none. The theme of dissonance says to me: look for those moments. Dig deep and refuse to walk way. Say no, there’s something there – a little deeper.
Q: I know that this will be your first experience at FLEFF. Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
A: I look forward to partaking in as much as I can this year. To be able to talk with the creators/producers of these mediated text and to ask “what were you thinking when you created this?” That kind of back-and-forth dialogue, you can’t get if you’re reading a book. You can’t engage in a dialogue with the text so, I like being able to dialogue with many of the key players of these films. It lends itself well with interviews, to find out more information, and in terms of the creation – what was in that persons mind when they created the film. FLEEF is going to be a phenomenal thing to experience.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Margaux Neiderbach is the Director of Student and Young Alumni Programs at Cornell University where she graduated in 1999. She also serves as a member of the Cinemapolis Board.
What do you do for FLEFF and year round as a member of the Cinemapolis board?
I volunteer as a greeter for FLEFF and have enjoyed attending many of the films that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to see.
As a board member, I've been involved with special events such as the "Local Favorites" series, events surrounding the digital conversion, and the annual "And the Winner Is" fundraising gala, which will be held this year on 3/2/14.
I know Cinemapolis has converted to all digital projectors. How will this affect FLEFF, whether positivity or negatively?
The board is thrilled about the digital conversion and our movie-going audience is benefiting from it as well. The visuals and sound quality are infinitely better. FLEFF films can now be screened at a higher quality.
Tell me about a challenging aspect of your job, which, despite being difficult, has been rewarding?
Many community members don't realize that Cinemapolis is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that relies heavily on individual donations and grants. The theater depends on membership and donations, not only for the digital conversion, but also for day-to-day operations.
Informing individuals about the theater's unique role and importance in our community and nonprofit status can sometimes be a challenge. There are many ways that Cinemapolis benefits the community through lectures, talk-backs, cry-baby cinema, FLEFF, and much, much more that would not necessarily take place at a commercial venue.
Can you give me your “Top 3” memories from FLEFF where you remember feeling amazed and proud to be part of the festival?
Volunteering for FLEFF has provided me the opportunity to meet and speak with fascinating film directors and producers and spend time with dedicated Ithaca College students. I've seen incredible films from around the world and from our own backyard. This annual local tradition holds such an important place in the diverse local culture.
Do you have any words of wisdom for this year's FLEFF goers?
Check out the schedule in advance, buy a festival pass, bring your friends, and see as many movies as you can!