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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, April 15, 2011
Blog posting by Brian McCormick, Film & Photo '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
I'm currently in Park 220 for an ongoing meet up with FLEFF guests. Right now is new media artist and filmmaker Helen De Michiel, the brains behind the open space documentary project "Lunch Love Community." Come for any of these presentations -- it's FREE!
Here's the line-up: 10am --Rodrigo Brandão, Kino Korber Films 11--Helen De Michiel, Lunch Love Community, 1--Philip Mallory Jones, new media artist 2--Franklin Lopez, media activist , moderated by John Scott 3--Danny Schecter, moderated by Todd Schack
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Tomorrow FLEFF will be doing the east boast premiere for Lunch Love Community (which I'll refer to as LLC), which will be a sit, watch, talk, interact screening. Now De Michiel will talk to us about her project, moderated by FLEFF co-director Patty Zimmerman.
De Michiel begins by introducing LLC by telling the story of a school in Berkley who decided to make a change toward the school lunch program.
(For further information about LLC, check out the other blogs about De Michiel's previous talks. In this blog post I'll try to cover the unique discussions during today's event.)
With LLC, there is this shift from hardcore advocacy work to more open space documentary form. De Michiel started from the beginning engaging with the community in Berkley. Just making lots of meetings and talking to different groups who are involved. It isn't supposed to be an advocacy film. "There's a very fine line," she says, "between the community people who want you to promote what they're doing, and you having the freedom to see the story as it really is."
On the project's mosaic structure and slow media idea: De Michiel wrote an essay back in early 200s about "slow film." These films that takes years to produce and give you time to go very deeply into a topic, perhaps into a story that you didn't start off with (which can be the case with many documentary films).
One audience member has been following what's going on in Berkley, working with problems of childhood obesity in California, and her work to educate kids on nutrition and how they have the tools to better their eating habits. In an environment where there's so many extremes, she says, you need to come in and tell stories so people can find their own solutions.
De Michiel talks about how, as an artist, she needed to be sensitive to the kind of story that she wanted to tell.
To give people an idea of the project, she is showing one of the LLC webisodes off the website. After watching, an audience member says that he actually does see a strong narrative in this video, and he asks, "How do we understand this project?"
De Michiel says how there are gaps in between the pieces which have "different flavors and textures" which can incite different responses and discussions. She says how it shouldn't be dependent on the heavy persuasive qualities of a film. It should instead be a way of presenting something that can people can be surprised by or made aware of. Co-director Tom Shevory comments how you can walk away and say 'Wow, what a great idea!', from which another viewer in the room says that it is "even more persuasive than an advocacy film."
One asks De Michiel about a sequel, and she responds in her wonderfully food-linguistic dialogue: "These were only supposed to be little appetizers."
The next episode that she gives us a taste of opens with a women identifying "the cheetohs epidemic" to the laughter of the audience. This webisode contrasts wonderfully with the previous webisode, taking a very humorous and even more light-hearted approach to the video, showing the students at Berkley doing science experiments with burning Cheetohs.
What I'm finding from these quick webisodes is how much it excites the audience and gets people talking about food and issues surrounding food. That's what this project does: open up dialogue and give people ideas and awareness.
Be a part of the dialogue! Come tomorrow at 12:00 Noon with Lunch Love Community webisodes on healthy food for public schools, with film director Helen De Michiel, chef and cookbook author Julie Jordan, and public health professor Stewart Auyash.