About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Blog posting written by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts, '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, Connecticut.
My name is Alexis Lanza. I'm a Junior at Ithaca College, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film, Photography, and Visual Arts. Although I applied and was accepted to IC as a BFA major, more than once I came close to changing my major. Something always stopped me right before I handed in the paperwork. By the second semester of my sophomore year, I found myself putting everything I had into a film for my second Cinema Production class. In a moment when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, I found solace in the quiet of the Athletics and Events Center track during a weekend-long swim meet and called my older brother. “I can't do this,” I said to him. He told me to keep trying, to push through. If I hadn't called him that day, I might have given up what has become the most important thing in the world to me: creating.
I spent the first nine years of my life on the shores of Leonardo, New Jersey, soaking in the salty air and collecting bits of sea glass on the beach. My family relocated to a minuscule town in upstate New York called Rockdale, which was about as exciting as it sounds. We lived in a renovated brick schoolhouse that became my home for almost ten years. I spent most of my time wandering around fields, climbing trees, and writing about the bits that were revealed to me in that quiet, dusty slice of the world. I graduated from a class of forty four students and was shipped off to college. Shortly after, my family moved to Connecticut.
Here at Ithaca College, I work as a supervising lifeguard at the campus pool, as well as at PPECS (Park Portable Equipment Center and Services). Outside of classes, I volunteer on student film sets in pursuit of as much experience as possible. When I find extra time, I illustrate and photograph for Ithaca College's Buzzsaw Magazine and participate in ICES meetings (Ithaca College Environmental Society). My major is broad; I have the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes in Film Production Film Theory, Photography, and Art History. Classes that open my mind as far as it can possibly go in the limitations of a traditional classroom setting fulfill my Anthropology minor. I also have a minor in Honors, which means I can choose fun seminars and take trips to National Parks in the summer through a program called Partners in the Parks. My favorite seminar was Cultural Encounters at Ithaca College, in which we were required to attend a certain number of events on campus: music, performative, intellectual, et cetera, and blog weekly about our experiences. I attended events I never would have even thought to go to otherwise and was given the chance to write about it.
Last semester was a growing experience for me as an artist. I took two production classes: Advanced Cinema Production: Experimental and Selected Topics in Photography: Photobook. In both classes, I explored techniques I hadn't known about before and discovered my tendency to incorporate narrative aspects in my photography, while I enjoy experimental techniques in my filmmaking. I also acted as the Director of Photography for a student film for the first time, and nothing has ever felt more right than how I felt behind the camera. There is something inside me that is larger than I am. It grows, sometimes painfully strong, pressing against the inside of my chest until I am sure I will break— but it is released into my work as an artist. Learning how to understand this was a long process; unfamiliar, dark, and downright terrifying.
I am looking forward to FLEEF this year and will be experiencing the festival for the first time. I am eager to be working as a blogger, and will be trekking into every event possible with wide eyes. Nothing excites me more than an opportunity to learn about myself and grow as a person, and my instincts tell me working as a blogger for FLEFF won't let me down in that aspect. I most look forward to having the opportunity to meet filmmakers at events. I ache to talk with them and discover I am not the only one who experiences such a raw, innate need to create films.
I hope you're all as excited as I am for the 17th annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival! I fondly cling to this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” If there's one thought I hope to stir in the murky section of your brain where ungraspable thoughts often linger, it is: what experiences have you had so far that have shaped who you are?
Monday, January 27, 2014
Blog posting written by Lucy Yang, Journalism and Politics, ’14, FLEFF blogger, Puyang, Henan, China.
I was born in a relatively small, slowly developing, and quite conservative city in central part of China called Puyang. About three and a half years ago, I came to Ithaca, N.Y., for college all by myself. That was my first time being abroad.
I am so fortunate that my parents have always been very open and they would allow me to try things out and make decisions on my own. My father, from his personal experience with his parents, understands how important it is for me to study something that I am really into rather than being coerced and end up doing things that I don’t enjoy. That’s why I ended up majoring in journalism and politics, although I know my mother would probably be so much more satisfied if I go to medical schools and be a doctor someday.
I grew up dreaming to be a war correspondent. I enjoyed reading creative non-fictions and autobiographies written by journalists. For all these years, in my mind, I guess, being a war correspondent was just something that seemed to be so romantic: traveling around in war zones, talking to people in a different language, fleeing under the rain of bullets and behind the fog of smoke bombs…
I know I was stupid. I know that I was over-romanticizing wars and what journalists actually do. I hear about all those journalists who were killed in warzones: some were as casualties of wars; some were even as political leverages. They fulfilled their roles as journalists with the cost of their lives. They are men and women with great courage, great determinations, and great hearts.
Once I was talking to a mentor of mine about how I don’t think I have the courage as those war correspondents do. He was astonished: “Are you kidding me? You are the bravest person I’ve ever known! You are brave enough to come to this country at such a young age all by yourself!” That was clearly the most encouraging thing I’ve ever heard.
I spent a semester at the University of Hong Kong in the fall of 2012. During my time there, I was lucky enough to be able to learn from some of the best journalists such as former CNN's Senior Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy and famous non-fiction writer and "China watcher" Qian Gang. It was a great experience for me and I would love to go back there in the future.
I am very excited to be on the blogging team for FLEFF this year. I’ve definitely had some memorable time with FLEFF in the past. The films that FLEFF showcases are eye-opening for me, especially those independent films from China. They have allowed me to look at my home country with a different perspective because most of those films are banned in Mainland China, and, at the same time, they also differ from what's mainstream in the United States. To some extent, It is similar to my experience in Hong Kong, where I was able to examine China from a relatively independent viewpoint.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Ithaca's very own Cloud Chamber Orchestra will be playing an original live score to the classic documentary, Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, this Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. The beautiful interior of the chapel should make a pleasant backdrop for what is sure to be an unforgettable performance by an incredible group of musicians.
Consisting of local musicians Robby Aceto, Peter Dodge, and Chris White, the Cloud Chamber Orchestra is an improvisational group that specializes in live film scores for silent films.
The group has performed original, improvised film scores for films such as Nanook of the North, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and The Great White Trail, among others, and continues to be an annual favorite at FLEFF favorite.
White, the cellist of the group, says that the excitement of playing an improvised score comes from "playing with such good musicians and improvisers" but also "the unknowns that go along with [playing live music] with the film in front of a live audience."
Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life is considered by many to be the first ethnographic documentary. Made in 1925, the film follows a group of people from the Bakhtiari tribe of modern-day Iran as they lead their herds of livestock on a treacherous, annual journey through a mountain range to better pastures.
Says White "It is a documentary, but it's also a story, and such a grand story that you forget it's a documentary."
Despite the inherent difficulties in scoring a documentary, White insists that the story in the documentary is so compelling that improvisation won't be much more difficult than it would be for a narrative film.
"We usually prepare by first watching the film, either individually or together, and then we talk about it," says White.
"Often we'll come up with general strategies of musical style and instrumentation. Peter and Robby both play multiple instruments while I usually stick to the cello. Then we begin rehearsing by improvising while we watch the film. Each time we play with the film the music is different because it's all improvised, but each time we are getting to know the film better, and our interpretation becomes more firmly established and more closely aligned with the film and how we want the score to sound for the movie we're working with."
The screening of Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, kicks off at 7:30 PM this Tuesday, January 28th at the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. Get there early so you can get a front row seat to see Ithaca's favorite musical group (and a sneak peak of what their performance at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival will be like!).
What was your favorite Cloud Chamber Orchestra performance?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Blog posting written by Timna Mayer, Violin Performance,'15, FLEFF blogger, Salzburg, Austria
My name is Timna Mayer. Yes, it’s Tim-na (people usually have trouble understanding my name so I’m just making sure). Anyway, I’m Timna and I come from Salzburg, Austria. Austria is the tiny country right next to Germany (just in case you were wondering). I came here to Ithaca about 1.5 years ago, with only one suitcase and a violin.
I left my home, because, even though Austria is a wonderful country, I had always been feeling as if I didn’t quite fit in- into the bigger picture; a bigger picture drawn precisely, in simple colors (not too bright) and planned out into its greatest detail. I had always been spontaneous, a bit dramatic (as my parents would say) and, most of all, driven by the idea of living a life as a free artist (call me an idealist!).
Born in Austria, the glory land of mountains and Dirndl-dresses, there was no place for an alternative musician like me- with terrible yodeling skills and a natural disinterest for Mozart. I was, as you will, the part of the picture where the artist accidently sneezed or spilled color- a part in blurred lines that was unplanned. In my world, the world of music, they’d call me a dissonance.
So there I was, a dissonance in a perfect Mozart piece, and after 23 years of searching for release, I finally decided to get on my feet and make a change. At a slapping pace, I left everything I knew, packed my life into a suitcase and got on a plane. Aiming for something greater or, without setting my expectations too high, at least something different.
For those who know Ithaca, the fact that I ended up here shouldn’t be a surprise. Ithaca: home for people of any kind and hot spot for artists, intellectuals and hedonists; a place with a sweet aftertaste of homelike idyll.
It didn’t take me a long time to find myself a home and a place to study. Ithaca College welcomed me with open arms, with a sense of personal warmth I had never experienced before. In Ithaca, and at Ithaca College, I immediately felt as if I had finally arrived; as if I had finally found a place that wouldn’t only allow me to be me, but would also help me embrace it.
No one has ever told me how to live my dreams. There’s no recipe for it and no manual. I’ve surely heard stories of princesses being rescued by a prince in shining armor, but I never thought it could happen to me. It sounds cliché when people come to America and talk about the “American dream”, but it happens- at least sometimes. At least it happened to me. My dream came true; I could finally be me.
Today, 1.5 years after my arrival, I can say that Ithaca and the people here have changed me; they have changed me in so many ways. It was here that I grew up, found my voice as a violinist and was culturally and intellectually encouraged on my way to becoming a professional musician. I performed countless concerts, I was taught and supported by highly qualified professors and I was engaged in many astounding cultural events such as the FLEFF film festival.
When I was younger, my mom used to tell me “When you find something good- share it”. After “finding” Ithaca, I felt the strong need to share my luck and what I know about this wonderful place. I wanted to become an active part of this city.
During my first semester at Ithaca College, I stumbled on a class called FLEFF Festivals: Politics and Practices in Creative Industries. Even though this class had nothing to do with my major (violin performance), I was fascinated by the idea of being part of such an important event for our college and city. But not only that, because I grew up in Europe where film festivals are highly celebrated for representing nations, I also saw this film class as an opportunity for me to finally be involved; involved in getting this city “out there”.
One year later, after experiencing FLEFF 2013, I can say that participating in this festival was one of the best decisions I have made. Only in Ithaca can a student like me get the chance to experience all kinds of cultural features this city has to offer, in only one week (and there are plenty, trust me!). Film screenings, concerts, international guest speakers, flash mobs, intercultural exchange, etc. I knew from the start: This festival is Ithaca, the way I love and appreciate it.
After participating in this event for the first time, I was sure there was no better way for me to share my fascination with Ithaca than by being part of FLEFF. Ithaca has given me so much more than I expected and I want to share this experience by representing this place in the best possible way. I want to give more people the chance to experience what I’ve experienced and to become as happy with Ithaca as I am.
My name is Timna Mayer and I’m proud to say that I’m here now, representing Ithaca as a blogger for the FLEFF festival 2014.
My team and I welcome you to Ithaca, our home.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Blog posting written by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production, ’14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA
My name is Kayla Reopelle and I’m one of the new bloggers for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival! I am a senior Documentary Studies and Production major with minors in Honors and Politics, Model UN delegate, and co-editor for Buzzsaw Magazine’s multimedia section, Seesaw.
Before I came to Ithaca College, I didn’t have a passport.
I’m from a small town in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State called Roy. Known for the bi-annual Roy Rodeo, my hometown is something a little different. I’m drawn back to its breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and churches converted into gun shops.
I was eager to get out and explore the world, try new things, and my studies allowed me to do just that. I’ve traveled to three continents, worked with a radio show that features Incarcerated Voices, and found inspiration in new media theories that push me to tell stories in interactive ways.
FLEFF is one of the highlights of my spring semester.
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival gives me and other Ithaca College students a chance to meet filmmakers, artists, musicians and scholars, to see banned films, and push ourselves to think about the festival’s theme beyond conventional limits. When I heard this year’s theme was dissonance, I knew I wanted to be a blogger. More on that next week!
I’m very excited for FLEFF’s screening of Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) this Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30pm in the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. The Cloud Chamber Orchestra will be performing a live score to the silent documentary.
I’ve seen the Cloud Chamber Orchestra at previous FLEFF’s and every performances brought a fresh reading to the film being screened. I hope to see you there!
What keeps you coming back to FLEFF every year?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Let me start off by saying how exciting it is to be a part of the 17th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival! I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to post about the events of the festival as well as interact with everyone involved.
I am a junior Film, Photography, and Visual Arts major with a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications. My major allows me to pursue my greatest passions in life while broadening my skill set. Having the opportunity to study at Ithaca College has taught me more than I ever could have imagined about my future profession and myself as a person.
On campus, I am involved in a number of activities. I play tennis for our club tennis team, participate in the American Marketing Association, and volunteer on a number of student film crews as frequently as possible.
I’m from Buffalo, New York, a city known mainly for their outstanding chicken wings and not-so-outstanding football team, the Buffalo Bills. Growing up in a very cold and snowy part of New York was perfect for two of my favorite passions in life: skiing and film. There’s nothing more magical to me than the feeling of gliding across a snow covered mountain on a cold winters day, and nothing more relaxing then settling into a warm movie theater to escape the cold.
I was originally drawn to FLEFF as a freshman on campus because of the prospect of participating in my first film festival while having the opportunity to interact with filmmakers from around the world. After speaking with various filmmakers and festival guests, I remember feeling so inspired to be in an environment that promoted such open expression of thoughts and ideas. FLEFF also helped me to realize that film festivals are more than just screenings; they are a place for expression of ideas through various channels such as music, lectures, and, of course, film screenings.
This year, I am especially looking forward to participating more actively during FLEFF. Being a blogger is an incredible honor and I am so excited to work with the other amazing members of our blogging team! We have so many incredible events, screenings, and experiences ahead of us and I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to experience and write about them!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
I’m a senior Documentary Studies and Production major at Ithaca College with minors in African Diaspora Studies and Honors. My schooling has provided me with every outlet to explore the worlds I care most about. I have traveled to England to experience the literary works of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady; completed independent research in South Africa about the strength of single motherhood for Xhosa women in the historically oppressed township of Langa; interned and produced for the WNYC arts and culture radio program Studio 360 hosted by Kurt Andersen; and consistently volunteered with the food donation program SWIFT. As I approach graduation, I thankful that Ithaca has given me everything I wanted and more.
In short, I am a passionate student journalist with an ear for stories, an eye for the small but beautiful aspects of life, a taste for an adventure, and a heart that always welcomes a genuine laugh. Anyone know a good joke?
Croton-on-Hudson, NY, my hometown, is a small village just north of NYC. It is known for the annual Clearwater Festival, a folk music and green initiative festival started by Pete Seeger nearly 45 years ago. Ever been? As it is a little hippie and post-communist town, I grew up to believe that you must be the change you wish to see in the world. I continue to strive for that every day.
FLEFF has been a key part of my experience at Ithaca College. From incredibly engaging international films to thought-provoking contests, from knowledgeable speakers to exciting performances, I have enjoyed every moment of FLEFF that I have ever experienced. In a previous year at the festival, I had the opportunity to meet director Tina Mabry of Mississippi Damned, a film that is still one of my favorites to this day. She helped me believe that a film could be made to truly challenge its viewers to think differently about race inequality.
This year, I am so thrilled to be a FLEFF blogger and truly honored to be part of the grand team. This year’s theme of DISSONANCE is surely going to create extraordinary events. Our writing contest for high school students reflects the festival’s ability to bring people from around the world together in an intellectually challenging way. I can’t wait to see what the students submit. FLEFF 2014, here we come!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Blog post written by Elma Gonzalez '14, FLEFF Blogger, Journalism, San Diego, CA.
Hello fellow FLEFF enthusiasts!
This year is FLEFF's 17th anniversary. The theme is Dissonance, and beginning March 31 through April 6, the festival will feature “different environments” across artistic platforms like music, film and technology. Although I am excited for the festival every spring, this year is special for me because I will not only attend, but I will also be backstage part of the staff as a blogger!
I am a senior journalism major with a minor in deaf studies at Ithaca College, which presents the festival since 2005. I currently write for The Ithacan, a daily online newspaper with a weekly print edition at the college, and I have also worked in online and video platforms at international institutions and companies in Brazil and Japan. I tend to cover hard news and rarely step out of that box, so working as a blogger for the festival and incorporating a voice to my reporting is thrilling.
I was born in San Diego, CA, but grew up in Tijuana, Baja California, a Mexican city by the U.S.-Mexico border saturated with Japanese manufacturing companies. In fact, my house is located one block from the Samsung and Toshiba factories.
Because of my Latin background, I often gravitate toward films that uncover issues relevant to the region. Every year, FLEFF offers screenings of Latin American films through collaborations with organizations like the Chiapas Media Project, in Mexico, and those are usually the films and discussions I make sure to attend.
What has made FLEFF so special for me as an audience member, are not only the wonderful unique films they screen, but the meaningful dialogue sparked by such films. The festival also gives audience members the opportunity to meet and converse with filmmakers and producers, who are invited to attend. In short, unlike other festivals, in FLEFF, I am able to casually go up to successful figures in film, shake their hand, share my opinion with them, and ask them to share theirs. Ultimately, this kind of experience is what motivated me to become part of the festival’s staff. I just hope I can also intoxicate you with the excitement I have for the festival.
FLEFF is only a few months away, so be sure to keep reading the Intern Voices Blog for the latest news on the festival, check out the Dissonance Project, which is a writing competition open to high school students, and follow me on Twitter @elmayedda for quick updates.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this question: what do you think of this year’s theme, dissonance?
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Greetings Fellow Cinephiles, Bloggers, Artists, and lovers of the online sphere of all things amazing,
My name is Blaize, like fire, like the horse, like carving a new path through the woods, like the 17th century French philosopher Pascal, just add the “I” and you get me!
I hail from Georgia, not the state, but a town in Vermont. Far from the deep South, this little town boasts natural beauty, nestled on the shore of Lake Champlain, with icy winters and gorgeous summers akin to those in Ithaca.
I spent my childhood home schooled, which left a lot of time for catching snakes and tadpoles, training my dogs to do cool tricks, building tree forts with my three brothers, and breeding bunnies and gerbils.
The one thing missing in my town is a high school. Georgian kids have school choice. I attended high school in Essex Junction, VT, where I sang, danced and ran my way through a busy four years. It was there that I found my passion for media while working on EHSPN, our school’s sports show.
I am currently a junior at Ithaca College studying Television-Radio Communications. I have traded sports coverage for a position producing The Screening Room, a film review show on ICTV. I also have a passion for acting and work on as many field shows and student projects as possible each semester. Shows I especially enjoyed include Boys of 213, a mockumentary comedy about college boys in a forced triple, and Life and Death, a drama about addiction.
My personal addiction is to a busy lifestyle. I love a packed schedule that makes relaxation taste ten times sweeter than lethargy ever could. This semester I am an RA for the transfer floor, work in Alumni Hall, volunteer at the Auburn State Penitentiary with my acting teacher, and also maintain a gym routine religiously.
Speaking of religion, I find it a fascinating aspect of humanity. The social constructs that religion provides, it’s influence on politics, relationships, individual psyche, and so much more cause me to question whether it is a more positive or negative influence in our lives. The fact that it is so globally integral in the functionality of so many facets of our lives forces me to consider questions like; What is the origin of the human need for religion? What are the dangers of ascribing to one religion devoutly? What are the benefits of obtaining a religious identity and community? Is it possible for one religion to be “right” and all the others “wrong”?
Last semester I was able to take U.S. Foreign Policy and Religions, taught by Beth Harris. This course allowed me to explore some of these questions. We had a series of guest speakers who were activists in Ithaca. Their perspectives ended up inspiring a few colleagues and I to create a short documentary exploring individuals’ religious motivations for activist work. The results of our interviews revealed that while some people obtain most of their motivation from a sense of higher calling, others do it simply for the good of humanity, or because of personal experiences that have driven them to action.
While the status of international relations can be alarming, people like the ones we interviewed give me faith in humanity. The work of activists, indie filmmakers, and documentarians gives me hope that people will not be silenced on the issues most pivotal to our continuance as a happy, healthy species.
The privilege of blogging for a both locally and internationally iconic film festival such as FLEFF is humbling, honoring, and above all thrilling. I am looking forward to meeting people who will challenge my perceptions of the world around me. I am eager for conversations that will inspire further research and creative work. I am most excitedly anticipating the breadth of learning that I know is headed my way. I hope to find answers, and in the process, help you who read this blog to find new discoveries as well!
Here we go! Bon Voyage!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Welcome back, FLEFFers!
The 17th annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival is approaching quickly: kicking off on March 31st and running until April 6th here in Ithaca, New York.
My name is Kimberly Capehart and I am incredibly excited to be back blogging for FLEFF for my second year!
I’m a sophomore Documentary Studies and Production major with an Honors and Politics double minor. My degree program gives me a lot of flexibility in the courses I’m able to take, so I’ve been taking a healthy mix of film, photography, and journalism classes (along with countless others for my minors).
I come from a large town in southern New Jersey called Cherry Hill, which is just about 10 minutes outside of Philadelphia and about 45 minutes away from the infamous “Jersey Shore.” In addition to the obvious benefits of living so close to Philadelphia, growing up in a football-loving family in Cherry Hill has turned me into a huge Eagles fan.
But since the Eagles season came to a very unfortunate end against the New Orleans Saints a few weeks ago, I’m looking forward to putting all of my energy and excitement into this year’s FLEFF.
The theme of this year’s festival is DISSONANCE, which, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as “a lack of agreement.” You can read about my interpretation of the theme in just a few weeks.
This year’s festival promises to be full of great films, performances, guests, and so much more. I’m personally very excited to start interviewing festival guests about their work. Additionally, I’m excited to improve my blogging skills with the fabulous team of bloggers with whom I’ll be working.
The festival may be a few months away, but there are FLEFF events that you can get involved with right away!
TONIGHT, January 23, 2014, FLEFF will be hosting a screening of Ladies of the Gridiron in Emerson Suites B at 7:00 PM. The film takes a look at The Quake – an all women’s football team as they face various challenges both on and off the field. Dr. Steven Auyash, professor of Health Promotion and Physical Education, and Traevena Byrd, Associate General Counsel of Ithaca College, will be speaking after the film. Find me in the front row!
The DISSONANCE Project is a nonfiction-writing contest for high schoolers that is accepting submissions until February 1, 2014. Students must submit an original work exploring the 2014 festival theme of DISSONANCE. A panel of professors in the Roy H. Park School of Communications will judge entries and winners will receive a cash prize of $100. Find out more information about that here.
What are you most excited for about the 17th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival?