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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Elma Yedda Gonzalez at 11:37PM   |  1 comment
Mara Alper, professor of media arts, sciences and studies at Ithaca College

Blog post written by Elma Gonzalez '14, FLEFF Blogger, Journalism, San Diego, CA. 

When Mara Alper, professor of media arts, sciences and studies at Ithaca College, was about 9 years old, she and her dad built a radio.

"We did it together, and I remember getting all the pieces together and turning it on and it worked," she said. "Suddenly this little fabrication of objects was a radio. That was an amazing moment for me."

She remembers this as a turning point in her life, one which, more than introducing her to the magic of mass communication, encouraged her to pursue her passions.

"I always appreciated that for my dad, it didn't matter that I was a girl, he was still doing this technical stuff with me, and I think that made a big impression on me," she said.

Last November, the New York Film Academy published telling statistics of film industry inequality. The numbers showed women constitute only 9 percent of film directors and 2 percent cinematographers. The highest percentage fell in the producer category with 25 percent. Additionally, in Academy Award history, there has only been one female filmmaker awarded for Best Director in 2010.

Alper has been a professor at the college for about 16 years, and throughout her life, she has directed about a dozen documentaries and video installations with subjects ranging from environmental issues such as water to psychological narratives discussing subjects like forgiveness. Yet, despite her success, Alper, like many other women in the film industry, has faced obstacles.

"There are certainly obstacles, there are certainly mindsets that are not that encouraging and supportive of women, but basically if what you're doing is something that you really love doing and believe in doing, that focus will generally get you through a lot of the obstacles," she said.

Alper was a featured filmmaker in FLEFF a few years ago. One of her works Sacred Waters of Bali, which she describes as a 'very poetic' work in progress, was screened in 2012.

"I was very pleased that so many people, including a lot of students were taken with it, because you don't know when you're doing something that is poetic and evocative whether people will just say 'huh?' Or they'll like it."

This year, Alper is participating in the festival by screening FLEFF films in her Ithaca College mini-course, Media & The Environment: Water Issues. The festival, she said, is an opportunity for people in the community to be exposed to extraordinary material.

“It’s very important for Ithaca College students, and the Ithaca community to be exposed to this just to see what is happening beyond what we're used to seeing.

For more information about her mini course visit Media & The Environment: Water Issues. The course is about water issues and it is one credit. 


1 Comment

I often forget how few women are represented in the film industry, until stories like this are shared. As a Documentary Studies and Production student, half of my classes are filled with women and half of my classes are mostly composed of men.

Aside from that, I've always been interested in Professor Alper's Media & The Environment course. I hope I can fit it into my schedule this semester!



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