About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, March 26, 2012
Blog post by Sarah Lockwood, Cinema & Photography '15, FLEFF Intern, Blairstown, NJ
From talking with Menna Khalil, an activist with the Arab Spring movement, it was impossible not to come away with a thorough understanding of the movement's past, present, and future. For those who are not familiar, I asked Menna to discuss a few topics, which I have condensed into the following explanations:
The pot of Arab Spring has been boiling for decades, each country's actions and movements affecting and inspiring one another. In Egypt, specifically, where Menna specializes, most of the unrest derives from its political background - nearly thirty years of nepotism, the gradual diminishing of the middle class, and the domestication and domination of people's everyday lives as a result.
The straw that "broke the camel's back" for the revolution were the "notorious police brutality" found on the streets of Egypt. In one case, a young engineer living in Alexandria was found brutally beaten to death and mouth stuffed with drugs, in a framing of his murder Why?
This man had recorded, and distributed via the internet, a video of several policemen making a drug deal and keeping the money for themselves. This incident along with countless accounts of "humiliating treatment" and "brutal corruption" of the police forces in Egypt spurned the revolution once again.
Menna notes that much of the Arab Spring movement is derived from a sense of "nostalgia" in Egypt. What does she mean by this?
For years, Egypt existed as a nation whose sense of ownership and pride, "being Egyptian", was weak. In order to feel proud of your own society, says Menna, you had to "walk very close to a wall with your head down" and hope not to get caught.
Smaller revolutions in nearby countries preceded Arab Spring, with the hopes of one day developing into a revolution or movement. As an area of the world who, in decades past, have been exposed to war and revolutions, the current generation was moved by a sense of nostalgia for revolution, as well as a desire for change.
The incident of the policemen's drug actions distributed through the internet is a prime example of modern media's affect on the current movement, to which Menna responded emphatically.
Menna feels the internet works as a powerful source of circulation - allowing individuals from opposite ends of the world to share their revolutionary experiences and witness them, respectively. The modern age of connection and distribution gives rise to a movement unlike any other in the past. However, there is a level of caution to take.
Facebook invites to protest were often viewed as "jokes" by older revolutionaries in some ages and "a lot of what happens, can happen, is in the streets" and "is never fully captured by Facebook or Twitter."
As an Egyptian and activist, Menna hopes that the bittersweet term "Arab Spring" and its movement will not eventually fade. The term "spring" evokes the image of a flower "blooming in the spring", which is a beautiful sign for Egyptians and other persons living in the middle east.
However, it also evokes a temporality - that the spring may eventually fade. The middle east conditions are still unclear, not yet "at its best place" for Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and other nations.
"As an Egyptian, I want to think that the revolution is not over, has not sprung then phased out into a different season."
Listen to Menna and her husband, Michael Kennedy, discuss this movement further during their talk tonight, at 7pm in Williams 225, Ithaca College.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Blog posting written by Ian Carsia, Cinema & Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Hamilton, NJ
1) What are you presenting/participating in for FLEFF 2012 and how does this relate to and engage with Microtopias?
"I am teaching a course together with media arts artist and Ph.D. candidate at the Information Science department of Cornell, Nicholas Adrian Knouf.
The course is entitled 'Microtopias Lab' and deals with utopia as a concept and practice in the context of histories relating to the junction of arts and sciences."
2) What is your background with FLEFF? How did you become involved with the festival and why?
"I am a graduate student at Cornell in the History of Art and Visual Studies. My work and interests are situated on the intersections of media arts and activism.
My dissertation work deals with the relationship between play, art, and social change. I look at artists using videogames as activist tools, as contemporary forms of intervention that have deep histories in interdisciplinary strands of arts, sciences, and counter-culture movements.
FLEFF began to include electronic media in 2007 when I first was invited to present at the "Gaming Meme" panel with film scholar Lisa Patty and network theorist Ulises Mejias. I've been part of the festival ever since in various qualities, mostly as a lecturer in the last three years."
3) You have collaborated with new media artist/activist Nick Knouf in the past. What has made this collaboration effective? What skills and attitudes do you both bring to your work?
"We have similar interests and thoughts about media arts and the political imaginary.
Both of our work deals with the histories, transdisciplinarity, and performative aspects of electronic culture conceived in a very broad sense, as a conceptual lens and set of practices."
4) What are you most looking forward to about FLEFF 2012?
"I am looking forward to the films--here is a list of a few films that I am really looking forward to see to begin with:
But the festival is really about the conversations and encounters that happen unplanned."
5) What advice would you give to college students wishing to become involved with new media art as well as activism?
"At present, the new media arts are pretty much tied to creative economies, more so than in the 1990s when the enthusiasm around the internet provided a space for more politicized expressions.
On the other hand, the global activism emerging in the recent year incorporates some of the practices then seen as art-activism. Think of the impromptu beamed projections on the walls in New York in support of the occupy movement making the rounds on youtube, etc..
Artists like Krzysztof Wodiczko made a career of similar interventions in public space, then groups like F.A.T. Lab took this practice over, and finally it appears on the street in the context of large and urgent protests.
Historical consciousness is key to activist and artistic practices, but one makes history by doing.
I think that utopia is an essential energy for those interested in creatively engaging and changing our present condition."
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Class of 2012
I’m a vagabond of passions.
One of my biggest regrets is ever believing I had to chose just one. As a college senior, Ithaca College is my third undergraduate institution, and I’m surrounded by so many other students and faculty, who like me, have discovered it’s a beautiful thing to be abundantly passionate.
That’s why I know I belong at FLEFF. I don’t have to choose one form of expression because FLEFF celebrates it all.
I added an anthropology minor in the second semester of my junior year. My love for the human condition was what made it hard to find my niche in media for so long, but now I know I can intertwine them.
When you’re a college senior the “real world” becomes ever more real and scary, and some how society pressures make it seem like graduating college becomes a quarter life crisis. Who are you going to be? What are you going to do? How much money are you going to make? How are you going to leave your mark on this world?
It’s nauseating yet exhilarating.
These questions may not be completely answerable in one day, or one lifetime. In many ways I feel like a born-again activist. I'm a pescetarian, I've stopped using plastics (to the best of my ability), and have started to put extra money towards saving endangered species.
After living in Los Angeles for a month, in the fast lane towards my then dream of being a television writer, I realized that I didn’t want to contribute to society by creating entertainment, but creating change. Media is a powerful thing. It's a universal language and it's ability to tug on heartstrings and make a difference in this world is amazing. I see it as a blessing to be in love with too many things, because there’s no such thing.
FLEFF is allowing me not only to share my love of writing with you, but to give you an insiders look into the beautiful world that it commemorates.
I’m thirsty for knowledge and love to be well informed – perhaps it’s because I’m the child of two academics. I’m in love with the idea of FLEFF because it turns these issues into art and expression, and I can’t wait to be involved with all that it has to offer.
I'm a sap. I cry when I'm happy, and I cry when I'm sad. I get inspired easily. I want to know: Is there any film, photo, or piece of art (music included) that has moved you towards inspiration to make the world a better place?
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Blog post written by Gena Mangiaratti, Journalism '13, FLEFF Intern, Feeding Hills, MA
Here are two events, one on-campus (and free!) and one off-campus, that I'm especially looking forward to.
As I said in a previous post, all FLEFF events are valuable to attend, but these are two that appeal to my personal interests:
Checkpoints Activism Panel: Documenting Iraq, Burin: Stories from a Palestinian Village, and Witness to Uprising: Voices from Cairo and New York (FREE)
Moderated by Beth Harris, featuring Menna Kahlil and Michael Kennedy
7 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, in Friends 309 (Ithaca College campus)
If you have been trying to follow the recent revolutions in the Middle East as best you can, you will probably be very interested in this event.
In reading about what is going on in, I try not only to learn about events via the news, but also to learn about what is happening from multiple news sources and perspectives. I also use Twitter to try to get information from people who are in the affected areas whenever possible.
I am very interested in hearing Menna Kahlil’s first-hand account of the uprisings in Egypt, and also learning more about the demonstrations in New York City in support of Egypt.
To read two great interviews about this event, one with Menna Kahlil and one with Dr. Beth Harris, see the links below.
Both interviews are by FLEFF intern Brian McCormick.
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
12 pm on Saturday, April 16 at Cinemapolis
I recently had the privilege of being able to speak with Ms. De Michiel about her work on this exceptional documentary/web series (will be posted soon – stay tuned!) about the story of school lunch reform in Berkeley, California.
Even though I admittedly may have forgotten about school lunches after they no longer affected me, I think nutritious food, especially for children at the elementary level, is really a crucial component, so it's excellent to hear that the people involved in this reform took the initiative to make it happen.
Though it was a local occurrence, I think it can provide global inspiration. I look forward to seeing the webisodes with Ms. De Michiel present, and also to learning more about how the members of the movement managed to effect such great change.
(It would be wonderful if this movement could spread…)