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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Blog post by Blaize Hall, TV-R, '15, Georgia, VT
The festival has run its course, the guests have gone home, the posters have been taken down, and the blogging is over - mostly. Two weeks later, the energy of festival week has dissipated, but the impact remains. Three films impacted me in unexpected ways, and cause my mind to wander back to Cinemapolis in my spare time.
The first film I attended at Cinemapolis was A Will For the Woods, examining the issue of green burials and following the life of Clark Wang in his fight to create a peaceful end in his battle against lymphoma. This film was a tear-jerker. Death is not a concept I spend a lot of time pondering, especially in such a close-up, interpersonal way. Seeing Clark’s courage, and that of his wife, caused me to want to be more brave in thinking about death as a natural part of life. Additionally, the way green burial was presented made the practice seem like an obvious choice. I didn’t even know the option existed before watching this film, and now I know it will be a part of my will.
In the Upstate Filmmakers Showcase, I was especially impacted by Watercolor by Vincent Grenier. When this film began, the only shot was of a river moving under a traffic bridge in Ithaca. This continued for the entirety of the short. At first, I became antsy, hoping for something to happen, anticipating something drastic that would make the audience gasp. But the film only gradually changed in image to different reflections on the water due to the time of day. Now, thinking back on this short, I recognize it’s simple beauty. I, a self-professed nature lover, barely ever spend the twelve minutes and thirty-seven seconds that this film did in one spot, admiring the beauty of it. How much more time Vincent Grenier spent falling in love with this one, pretty little spot under a bridge as he filmed is touching. This film reminded me to slow down and appreciate simplicity.
The last film of FLEFF week was A Touch of Sin, directed by Zhangke Jia. This film told the story of four individuals in China, and the violence they were a part of. The film was banned in China, which somehow made it all the more exciting to have at FLEFF. The four tales really illustrated archetypes of violence. One man killed out of boredom with a simple life. He worked as an assassin and enjoyed it. One man killed out of desperation, living in a politically corrupt village where he was powerless. One girl killed out of self-defense, when a man demanded sexual relations with her and began to beat her. And one boy killed himself out of hopelessness in unrequited love and an unalterable socio-economic status. Although the film was Chinese, dubbed with English subtitles, the characters were relatable. At times I didn’t even notice the subtitles, because I was caught up in a plot that is ultimately universal. The human drive to be in control of one’s life, and to be driven to desperate acts such as murder or suicide to feel empowered and autonomous is timeless, which is what makes this film symbolic of the human condition.
These three films are not the only works that stand out in my memory, but do seem to continue to find their way to my thoughts. I cannot wait for the next film festival that I can attend. What stood out for you at FLEFF?