About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Blog posting written by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Intern, Houston, Texas
Last night, Hockett Hall filled with the sounds of the medieval, the baroque and the 20th century all at once with Ithaca College’s rendition of Carmina Burana, bringing the audience to their feet in the end.
I met with producer, Phil Wilde, after the show to gather his feelings on the concert.
The goal of the concert was to reinvent Carmina Burana. The producers accomplished this goal by incorporating visuals. In addition, the typically choral concert was done entirely by instruments, other than a few sung pieces.
“It took months of production,” said Phil with an exhausted, but proud look.
The material ties perfectly into FLEFF’s theme of Mobilities . The concert was able to tie in the movement of people, passions and environments with the use of the visual and harmonic.
Phil described the connection: “We took material from the 11th and 12th century and reimagined it in 2013 in a totally new way.”
Although the concert is over, FLEFF certainly is not. Many more concerts and films are to come in the next few days. In the words of Phil, “It’s just the beginning.”
Did you make it to Carmina Burana last night? Which was your favorite piece?
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Blog post by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio '14, FLEFF Blogger, Ashland, Massachusetts
I hope you've been enjoying FLEFF as much as I have! Today, at 4 PM on the Ithaca College campus, Dominica Dipio will be screening her film "Crafting the Bamasaba." SHe was kind enough to speak with me about the film and her other works as a Fulbright Scholar. Read on to learn more!
Chloe Wilson: Have you been involved with FLEFF previously?
Dominica Dipio: This is my first time [at FLEFF] and I’m personally looking forward to it.
CW: What brought you to this year's FLEFF?
DD: I’ve come to the festival because I’ve been invited as a guest – I’m a Fulbright. I’ve been in Atlanta as a Fulbright and I’m very lucky to have been invited to Ithaca to give two lectures. One will be on a film that I am currently writing and another will be a presentation of a film I made myself out of cultural research – a documentary – and after the screening there will be discussion with the public: "Crafting the Bamasama."
CW: You've done so much work in regards to the study of Ugandan culture. Can you tell us about some of your projects?
DD: I’ve only done one feature-length feature film which is “A Meal to Forget” and that came out of a demand of my students – there was a great enthusiasm for my students and I to do something together. It’s about children’s issues and real-life situations in Uganda. I actually watched that – what inspired me to write this story and then film it was about a father who killed his two sons – apparently sons that he loved – and this interested me to such an extent that until I wrote it I could not understand what is it that society in Ugandan context that would drive a father to kill his children. And that came at a time when children were suffering a lot in the domestic sphere and they were in newspapers.
CW: And what is the film you're bringing to this year's FLEFF?
DD: "Crafting the Bamasaba" focuses on a male ritual – a well-known ritual in Ugandan culture of circumcision in a specific ethnic group in Uganda called the bamasaba. This is an annual ritual, it happens every year but my purpose of cutting out that research. Actually, I look at the film as an essay because it asks a lot of questions aimed at understanding the cultural logic of that nature which is the “traditional way.”
CW: Is there a specific context you analyzed the topic through?
DD: Particularly the context of HIV/AIDS epidemic, using the one knife that had the traditional lines, and so on. I’m also trying to pose questions about the ways of the tradition in the contemporary context where we are challenged with HIV/AIDS. And with this film – I’m not a part of that culture - so part of my research is trying to get people involved. I got members of this community – a cross-section of them in terms of age and gender – to talk about this issue.
CW: If you had to narrow it down to one reason, why should somebody see "Crafting the Bamasaba?"
DD: I think it’s bringing a cultural view and it’s a community that it getting involved in a contemporary context and you’ll see something different and that’s great.
DD: Mobility, for me, means communication. So, you know, the media – film is one of the most mobile forms of communication in that sense because for me, to be able to bring a visual Ugandan culture to America through the power of film. And for me, my view with this very film in the sense that people are not trapped in the traditional ways of doing - they are moving in terms of the context of their identity, and to me that’s mobility. We are not trapped in any context we are always moving and that’s the mission of the time.
Be sure to see "Crafting the Bamasaba" today at 4 PM!
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Robby Aceto: To say preparing a live improvised score for October presented some challenges would pretty much be a massive understatement. Here you have an incredibly complicated film by the brilliant director and film theoretician Sergei Eisenstein who incidentally, is credited with inventing the art of film montage and influencing such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and virtually every other filmmaker to come after him; his film is telling the story of one of the most significant and complicated series of events in world history, large events written very large, and anyone who has ever seen this film has seen it presented with a score by the legendary modernist composer Dmitri Shostakovitch. Okay, are we seeing any challenges here?!
I studied this film in college and have seen it many times over the years, so when the prospect of improvising a score for it at FLEFF was floated out to the group, I was initially very excited. But then I was also very daunted. I mean, how does one go about replacing (with an improvising trio!... and in a live setting!) a score by Shostakovitch? (rhetorical question). At first I spent a lot of time trying to track down the written score to see if any of its elements might lend themselves to interpretation by our group. I figured, if such an experiment was successful, it would be the first time Cloud Chamber Orchestra performed using any pre-conceived or written elements. But as soon as I began looking at the score on its own, simply as score and unattached to the film, my first thought was "Oh good grief, it's a total MONSTER!". I must admit I became more than a little paralyzed with fear and wanted to crawl into a hole. Then something interesting happened; I discovered that the score by Shostakovitch was written in 1966; it is known to us now as his tone poem "October". The film October was made in 1927. Anyone alive who has seen October has seen it synchronized with music that was written for it nearly forty years after it was released. I did some further digging and came to the realization that virtually no one knows exactly what kind of musical presentation accompanied the film during its first theatrical performances. There was a light at the end of the tunnel after all! It sort of ligitimized in my mind the notion of us improvising a score in a way that might be relevant today.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Blog posting by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Houston, Texas
Can't make it to Sarah Dupont's discussion of Amazon Gold? No problem! I'm here, live blogging away and bringing you the highlights!
We're over in Williams 202 with a full class! Sarah's trailer of Amazon Gold is great! This film will definitely be one you don't want to miss this Thursday night at Cinemapolis. This beautifully crafted film shows the destruction of the Amazon, particularly Peru, due to illegal gold mining.
Sarah worked in the Amazon Rainforest where the Andes Mountains meets the Amazon Basin to study the unique biodiversity. Here, the gold from the Andes streams down into the Amazon River. Since the price of gold has gone up so much, the area, once rich in biodiversity, is being destroyed.
In order to extract the gold, miners place the water in a barrel with mercury. Sarah described the mercury attaching to the gold as miners place their legs in the barrel to mix the solution. Then, the mercury is burned off the gold, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and leaving workers with mercury poisoning.
Sarah described the difficulty of filming the documentary in such a dangerous place. In making the documentary, she brought along war journalists to be safe. She said, "The war journalists is also a metaphor for war against ourselves and our planet."
She briefly explained the making of the film and engaged the class. "When did you first begin seeing climate change?" she asked.
Students in the classroom described experiences with temperature increases and flooding increases. A small uproar in the class began when one student commented, "There's nothing we can do about climate change. It's still going to change. It's something we have no control over."
Sarah responded, "I've seen a lot of changes over the past five years and it has a lot to do with our consumption. I think there are things we can do to mitigate it. I'm really inspired and hopeful because I think your generation is incredible. I think you have the ability to create change."
After a brief discussion on responsible consumption, Sarah returned to why she created a film. She said, "What's the most important thing I can do to create change, so I thought 'Make a movie!'"
She organized the film beginning by corresponding with a war journalist. She then contacted Sissy Spacek who knew more about production. After three years, the film was finally done. Currently, Sarah is slowly distributing the film through various festivals.
She described the process: "When you start something from a seed, it's never what you think it's going to be. You make all kinds of mistakes, but then one thing leads to the next."
Sarah then showed a short film called 40 Beauty and Destruction that juxtaposes the beauty in the Amazon next to the destruction. The title comes from the idea that the Amazon can be protected for only 40 more years at the current rate of destruction.
After the film, one student asked how we can help as U.S. citizens with policy in another country after our gold trade is what is driving this destruction.
"Be aware as a consumer and your power as a consumer," Sarah answered. She went on to describe the importance of raising awareness of policy that does not allow trade of illegally mined gold. In addition, she described being responsible in what you purchase as well as contacting government representatives.
The conversation turned to the role of the U.S. in the situation and whether or not it is our responsibility to save the Amazon if it is not in our country.
"There needs to be a re-thinking in the interconnections between different parts of the world," Dr. Patricia Zimmermann commented.
The class continued to discuss increased globalization and the ability of countries to regulate each other. The debate only switched at a student's question regarding the toxicology of the rainforest. Sarah responded with the fact that 70 tons of mercury go into the river daily, so there will be a big mess in cleaning the destruction.
Sarah ended the discussion with another short film called 60 seconds. The point of the film was that every minute an acre of the Amazon Rainforest is lost. She also shared her organization called the Amazon Aid Foundation, where people can work to learn, connect and protect the world.
Sarah also shared an important fact: "It takes 250 tons of earth to make a wedding band." This fact is important to keep in mind next time you're finding that special piece for your loved one.
Join us on Thursday at Cinemapolis for the full film! But how about we start the conversation now? How can we create change in the Amazon?
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Blog posting written by Andrew Ronald, Film, Photography & Visual Arts '15, Social Media Manager, Mahopac, NY
It's the second day out of a week-long worth of events for FLEFF and they're going strong! If you couldn't make it to this insightful workshop with Sarah DuPont, producer of Amazon Gold, there is no need to fret! I'll be liveblogging the event for you all to read right here:
4:02 PM - What better way to start than with a trailer for Amazon Gold?
4:08 PM - DuPont describes the detailed, yet poisonous process to acquire gold and the harmful dangers on the environment that occur in the meantime. This is why she made this documentary.
4:09 PM - Why is the Amazon and biodiversity so important? Thoughts from the audience touch upon the importance of the ecosystems that exist there. Even more frightening, "you are destroying things that you didn't even know were there in the first place."
4:14 PM - This was a true documentary. The crew members were exploring while the camera was rolling in some places that had never even been shot before. "If you get caught, you can get killed and no one cares. It was a dangerous endeavor, but it was worth every minute because the implication of losing the Amazon..."
4:16 PM - The Amazon is a big regulator of weather patterns and climate change, something that is very accessible to individuals everywhere today.
4:18 PM - A bit of inspirational advice from DuPont in which she mentions "this film was made for the game-changers out there."
4:22 PM - This is what discussions are all about. While getting some input from the crowd about their concerns regarding climate change, audience members are currently comparing the Earth during the prehistoric era to the modern age. And Sarah gets us back on track...
4:25 PM - Why did DuPont make this movie in the first place? The power of the visual is accesible. You can create awareness and give people a wake-up call if you show them devastated areas and damaged environments.
4:30 PM - How did DuPont make this movie in the first place? She describes the traditional filmmaking process from acquiring the appropriate crewmembers to the dangerous shooting process, and the tumultuous post-editing process. Simply put, "to make a movie is very, very hard." And three years later, the movie was complete!
4:38 PM - As United States citizens, we are supposed to promote positive change and reformation, even after we were the ones who caused this turmoil in the first place. DuPont lists off some alternatives to the process of making gold. So what do we do? Lobby off some ideas - we have voices, so why not use them?
4:52 PM - Dr. Zimmerman relates Dr. Phil McMichael's conversation from the previous night to today's conversation by emphasizing the collective nature of coming together to prove to be the solution. The global solution.
5:00 PM - How much regulation is too much regulation? Another controversial discussion leads to hands popping up throughout the audience. Opinions clash, thoughts are generated, and discussion occurs. It's what FLEFF is all about.