About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Blogging Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
I joined the FLEFF blogging team not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to learn and I wanted to write about it. My job is a blogger. I am a number; part of a group that is part of a larger group. We are the festival team.
The theme is dissonance. It's all we've been talking about for weeks. Every time I interview someone, I ask, “What does dissonance mean to you?” because every person has a different answer.
I have learned that festivals are a place for thought, discussion, and ideas to mass together in the same pot. I am excited for this. I think FLEFF is fascinating and every person who I have talked to has been completely different. It's a giant pot of soup with ingredients and flavors that somehow meld together to create an unexpectedly pleasant, bold, and unforgettable flavor. By result of some happy circumstance, I have been able to talk with people who offered an insight on something that directly correlated with my life: a concept I learned in class the day before that made me question my opinions, an idea I was on the fence about, or perhaps something that has been floating in the gray matter of my brain for awhile now.
I was given the privilege to speak with Karen Rodriguez, Upstate Filmmakers Showcase Curator, who talked with me about her experiences in the Pacific Northwest and experimental film. Hearing her story was the encouragement I needed to solidify my desire to move to Seattle and pursue what life has to offer me there. My blogging team also had the pleasure of Skyping with Leila Nadir, co-founder of ecoarttech (and her dogs!). Leila talked with us about the environment, nature, and her work. For that whole week, I had been subject to discussion along similar veins, focusing mainly on the National Parks, in my Environmental Anthropology class. I had been visibly struggling as these ideas threatened to irrevocably destroy everything that was important to me in my life before I questioned these topics. Without even realizing it, Leila put my mind at ease and helped me to see, as she put it, that nature “exists, but it's constructed.”
Dissonance. Throwing a wrench into the mix. I experience this every day. Although a contributor to opening my mind, thus far FLEFF has also been a way for me to calm the dissonances in my life and in that way fully grasp the lessons the world is trying to teach me. These two examples embody the feelings I have been experiencing as a blogger for FLEFF the past couple months. I am a little tentative— but mostly excited— for the festival week, when every day will be these experiences one after another. I am open and ready to question the world.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, NJ
Last week, my fellow blogger, Kayla Reopelle, interviewed Mr. Brett Bossard for an in-depth Q&A blog. I followed up with him this week, downtown in the warm lobby of Cinemapolis as the wind howled outside, to get his take on the festival's theme of Dissonance.
"I like to think of [Dissonance] in terms of cultural dissonance. It's important to recognize [cultural dissonance] because we're living in a time where we have a 24-hour news cycle and people are constantly talking about the culture wars that are being fought. I think cultural dissonance is a "chicken or egg" situation: is it the result of the culture wars being fought or is it the cause of those culture wars, is it what's driving this feeling people have of their ways of life and their belief systems being endangered? I don't know if it's technology that is making us more aware of the differences in how people choose to lead their lives. I definitely think that technology helps to break down some of the economic barriers that separate people and allow more people to broadcast their individual messages. There aren't as many impediments to someone across the world seeing whatever you have to say. I think, in part, though, that this is also driving a sort of fear or discomfort that people have regarding cultural dissonance.
Drawing largely from his experience as Executive Director of Cinemapolis, a position he acquired in August 2013, Bossard added:
"I think film, [as a technology], is a great way to engage with other people. One of the things I love about film is that it's one of the most accessible art forms: people who might not feel comfortable going to a play or to an art museum usually have no problem sitting down in a movie theater. That kind of accessibility is great because once you have people sitting in a theater, then you have their attention, and you can use film challenge them. Also, movie theaters are safer spaces [for challenging opinions] because they're dark and so your reactions are your own and you don't necessarily have to share your experience with the people around you, even though they're experiencing the same thing at the same time. Seeing films communally is one of the most important aspects of a festival and it's the best way for directors and activists to get their message and their argument across to an audience.When you share an experience that challenges your ideas with others, it eases the dissonance that all of us experience: it can almost bring us into a state of consonance."
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Audio recorded and edited by Lucy Yang, Journalism and Politics, '14, FLEFF Blogger, Puyang, Henan, China
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Blogging Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
I have never seen a more relaxing office. Taiwan- inspired tapestries, plants, and dragons cover the tops of the furniture. Soft, brown armchairs welcome me to the window, where a decorative cherry tree sits. Its pink- budded limbs obscure the gray cloud that has perpetually encased Ithaca College this winter.
Tucked away in the corner by her blue “zen fountain,” sits Dr. Virginia Mansfield- Richardson, Associate Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Running water trickles constantly in the background of our conversation about FLEFF.
Q: Can you elaborate on your involvement with registration and courses for FLEFF?
A: Once FLEFF came into the Park School, Dr. Zimmermann approached me and asked, 'What should we do?' And I said, 'Let's just put it under GCOM,' which stands for General Communications, 'and that can be its home.' I do the work that an associate dean would do; set course numbers up, opening up seats to students, and sending out the emails. So that's how I got involved in it, and I was quite frankly thrilled to be able to help out. For the mini courses that are offered, we put in 'FLEFF' followed by the title of the course so when students are searching, they can find the FLEFF courses easily. I enjoy doing it; it's my way of helping and making sure things get up smoothly.
Q: Do the mini-courses fill up quickly? Are they very popular?
A: The broad answer to that is yes, they're popular. The marketing of the whole FLEFF festival and the amount of work that has gone into it and helped it grow over the years, the amount of expertise that Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Shevory bring to it is marvelous.
Q: How are students made aware?
A: We put an announcement in Park News, the Intercom, and I believe there are posters up.
Q: How long have you been involved with FLEFF?
A: Indirectly since it started, but very involved in the past 3 or 4 years. My schedule is very full, but I do keep my eye on it all, and I read anything that comes out on it. I wish I had more time to go to it all.
Q: In your opinion, what is the best part about FLEFF?
A: I'll tell you my honest answer to that. I think the best part about FLEFF is the people who run it. FLEFF is so successful because we've got Dr. Zimmermann, Dr. Shevory, and Dr. Saunders really, really driving the train. And it is because of all that energy and expertise that it is known as broadly and widely as it is. I know just how much they put into it. I know how hard they work to make it what it is. Because of this, everything else that is the best part of the festival, happens. Ultimately, the best part about the festival is what the students and the community get out of it, but to me their expertise is what makes all the other successes happen. And I just can't say that enough. I have such respect for them and everyone else who are behind the scenes.
Q. What does this year's theme, dissonance, mean to you?
A: I look at it from angles of international, politics, social layers and interconnections within society and cultures. I think about the role of dissonance in political movements but I also think of it in an artistic sense, too— how you bring that about and really leave an impact on people. I think a great film changes a person's life forever. But it can change the course of a lot of lives by shaking things up, making things uncomfortable, and making sure that various voices get heard.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Blog post written by Haley Stearns, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’15, FLEFF Blogger, Buffalo, New York
Q: How long have you been working at IC?
A: Oh, let’s see. It’ll be a total of three years. My first year I was a dissertation fellow and then I was hired at a tenured track position so this May will be a total of 3 years that I have been here.
Q: After looking at your faculty profile on the IC website, I noticed that your current research is focused on HIV/AIDS, specifically in relation to people of African descent. Could you elaborate on your research?
A: My current research is at the intersection of rhetoric, religion, and difference. The project that I’m working on examines black church responses to HIV/AIDS across African diaspora. I wanted to find out what are the strategies that black religious leaders, who are on the front lines of addressing HIV/AIDS, using to address the epidemic. I wanted to tie the global with the local so that other religious leaders and interested individuals can learn from those strategies that I identify in my research. I also am trying to help fill a gap within current discourses on HIV.
Q: When did you first become involved with FLEFF?
A: This is my first year, so I’m still green.
Q: What originally inspired you to get involved with FLEFF?
A: I had some interest last year, but as a new faculty member, I was trying just to get stable in my department. I wanted to get involved because of the environmental aspect of it and just to be able, as a rhetorician, to look at the way that film could broach certain conversations, topics, and ideas, and to place those ideas in these mediated spaces in ways that may be more palatable to students.
Q: Based on your background in communication how do you think FLEFF promotes conversations about various issues and topics?
A: You know, there are underlying messages in film. So I think that it will be a good way to have conversations and dialogue about ideas and concepts that individuals otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. Today, very few people go to hear a speech given on a topic – we don’t predominantly receive information that way anymore, we just don’t. We watch movies, we read books, use the internet, and so it’s really a sight and sound generation and time period so I think that FLEFF is onto something when they’re showing these films.
Q: Would you encourage your students and students in general to attend FLEFF?
A: Absolutely. In a lot of my classes we try to deconstruct mediated messages to discover what are the underlying messages and what the implications of the messages are. To be able to do that and to say, why don’t you go look at this film during the festival, I think it’s incredibly valuable.
Q: How do you think this year's festival theme of dissonance will help to stimulate conversation?
A: That’s a good question. The class that I’m going to be teaching – the full title was called Rhetorical Bodies: Histories Preserved without Words, and I wrote down a little statement about the class because we’re talking about dissonance, you know things that clash and how they often can ignite something ingenious. So I’m going to be looking at black bodies across the diaspora at a time when on one hand it was a period marked by the denigration of black bodies, this less than human quality, but on the other hand you have blacks who only had their hands, bodies and voices as their source for determination. They had no land, but how they were able to stylize time and space and they were able to tell their stories through that. So on one hand it was oppression, and the other hand self-affirmation coming together to produce these beautiful styles of dance and stories that are being told along side the dance. So I think that students will be able to see that where there is dissonance there is always the potential for something beautiful to be created. And in terms of this class, where there is oppression, there is always resistance. Students will learn how to look those stories not written or preserved in word or written text. It’s there! One of the greatest ways that people give up their power is to think that they have none. The theme of dissonance says to me: look for those moments. Dig deep and refuse to walk way. Say no, there’s something there – a little deeper.
Q: I know that this will be your first experience at FLEFF. Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
A: I look forward to partaking in as much as I can this year. To be able to talk with the creators/producers of these mediated text and to ask “what were you thinking when you created this?” That kind of back-and-forth dialogue, you can’t get if you’re reading a book. You can’t engage in a dialogue with the text so, I like being able to dialogue with many of the key players of these films. It lends itself well with interviews, to find out more information, and in terms of the creation – what was in that persons mind when they created the film. FLEEF is going to be a phenomenal thing to experience.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Blog post written by Blaize Hall, '15, Television-Radio Communications, Georgia, Vermont.
Edited excerpts from a personal interview with Mead Loop, Associate Professor and Documentary Studies Program Coordinator, Department of Journalism, Ithaca College
Q: I’d like to hear about your experience as an adjudicator for The Dissonance Project that FLEFF ran this spring for high school students. Will you tell me about it?
A: The dissonance contest was an attempt to push our outreach with FLEFF to the high school audience. That’s generally the audience that doesn’t attend FLEFF, so we’re broadening that focus. We had submissions from as far away as Texas. The responses ranged in topics from personal dissonances in their lives, to one person who wrote about dissonance surrounding conflict in the Middle East.
Q: Do you think this will prompt students to travel to FLEFF and bring their families, or was the purpose more to get students involved in film festival culture at a younger age?
A: Well, we chose five submissions as grand prize winners, and we are inviting them to Ithaca for FLEFF. Whether someone from Texas chooses to come is up to them. It’s not our real focus whether they are twelfth grade, headed to college, or somewhere in high school and eventually headed to college. But, I suppose for some it will be an introduction to Ithaca College.
Q: It seems a common theme in a lot of the conversations I’ve had that youth, even up through college, tend to be a lesser part of the population at festivals. Why do you think that is?
A: It’s just the nature of giving up a couple weeks from school. There will be classes in session at the end of March, beginning of April, so I think it’s just a factor. There are after-school activities and homework.
Q: Can we go back and talk more about the dissonance writing contest? I’d like to hear more about the winning essay.
A: Sure, the winner actually was the girl who wrote about conflict in the Middle East. Of course, it’s a 2,000-year-old conflict, but it was her evaluation of right and wrong, and both sides having claims.
Q: Did she say why this topic was important to her?
A: She didn’t. I could hazard a guess that it may be something she learned about in high school and wanted to explore. The title is “Approaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict With an Open Mind”. She talked about the political, nationalistic, and religious dispute over Jerusalem. It’s such a contentious issue. The tendency is for people to come down hard on one side or the other, but she evaluated both.
Q: Thank you. My other question for you is this: You are a journalism professor, and, of course, the writing contest could be considered journalism related. How did you originally become involved with FLEFF? I think a lot of people have the concept that it’s a strictly film focused experience, and clearly it does cross departments.
A: Well, FLEFF is sort of the physical representation of our documentary studies degree. We emphasize non-fiction. Within that broader realm, there are lots of ways you can go, including experimental journalism. If you look at how we structured that degree, we have the journalism component, we have the television production component, we have the cinema verite or view as well. It’s defined pretty broadly in the degree, and if you’ve attended FLEFF, it’s all over there. There’s a general theme, and a lot of things fit under that.
Q: Speaking of the theme, how do you think dissonance fits into the environmental theme?
A: The only constant is the change in our Earth. We are evolving and devolving. It’s not as if our environment is static. It’s always changing, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.
Q: Thank you. Any closing words?
A: Come and enjoy!
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Blog post by Blaize Hall, Television-Radio Communications, '15, Georgia, VT
Tufts of hair poke every which way after he runs his hands over his head, making him look all the more like a passionate artist. John Scott leans back in his chair and exhales slowly. There is a long pause, the only sound in the room is the quiet hum of a Macbook Pro with AVID video editing software, and a class syllabus both pulled up on the screen.
Then he chuckles. “I’ve been having these conversations with a lot of people about football. I’m really against it. I think it’s this dangerous thing that people do and they wreck their brains playing this game... Part of it is, I think, because I’m from Canada, and I didn’t grow up with this game the way Americans have.”
“When you come from a different place, and grow up in a different model, it puts you in opposition to the culture in a way that can create some really good discussions.”
“There’s lots of things where I feel like I agree with the mainstream model. Then there are other things where I feel like I’m sort of this rock in the river, and maybe the river is slowly wearing me away, or maybe I’m diverting the path of the water.”
This is Scott’s own experience with dissonance. On the topic as FLEFF 2014’s theme, he praised it. “I’m definitely interested in having a media landscape that’s got some variety,” he expressed. He describes the current model for major film distribution as limiting.
John Scott knows all too well the struggles facing independent filmmakers, documentarians, and especially those in the business of documentary shorts. Having successfully distributed his own shorts, including Sandpiper (2011), The First Death in Nova Scotia (2012), One Art (2011), and a feature length documentary, Scouts Are Cancelled (2007), he has plenty of first hand accounts of wrestling for grants, taking on producing the work he is also directing, and spending countless hours working to circulate his films.
Scott’s films have been featured in FLEFF for three straight years. Scouts Are Cancelled had its U.S. premiere at FLEFF in 2008 after coming off of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. His most recent short, In The Waiting Room (2013), is slated to show at FLEFF this season.
He says he appreciates that FLEFF includes local films as well as international. “I think it’s great when you can get a collection of them (short films) together from the same region. It’s interesting to have a model that’s focused on local concerns...it has its own ethos. Maybe there will be different perspectives that will come out of that.”
When asked what the biggest benefit is of festivals in general, he replied, “audiences”, without a moment’s hesitation. Scott described the dialogue that happens at festivals as the singular most beneficial aspect of getting people together in one place to view media not available in mainstream forums. “When you’re at a film festival, you can FEEL the energy.”
Will you come be part of the energy this year at FLEFF?
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, NJ
Dr. Thomas Shevory is a Politics professor at Ithaca College, but admits he took on a sort of “second career” when he became co-director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival 10 years ago.
Originating at Cornell University seventeen years ago, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (or Cornell Environmental Film Festival, as it was known then) was under the supervision of a Mr. Christopher Riley who recruited the current directors, Drs. Shevory and Zimmermann in the festival’s youth.
“For a long time we weren’t programming or organizing the festival, we were just kind of doing Ithaca College’s segment of the festival,” explains Shevory.
But that all changed when the festival lost its funding from Cornell University in 2003. In order to save the festival, Ithaca College made the decision to take over the funding and, subsequently, all of the responsibilities of the festival fell in the hands of co-directors Dr. Thomas Shevory and Dr. Patricia Zimmermann.
As co-director, Shevory is responsible for coming up with an annual theme for the festival, programming all of the films on-campus and downtown at Cinemapolis, organizing events, bringing guests to the festival, and more.
“It was a pretty big transition,” says Shevory. “When we worked with Chris [Riley], we would just figure out when and where to put films on campus: it was pretty minimal. But then, all of a sudden, all of the responsibilities were on me.”
The pair was responsible for some big decisions in the festival’s first year at Ithaca College: they decided to expand the festival’s definition of “environmental” and also to partner with local independent theater, Cinemapolis. Shevory notes that these decisions were made to open the festival up to a wider audience.
“We wanted to get the community involved – not just the campus community, but the larger Ithaca community,” he adds.
10 years later and Shevory is still juggling his position as a professor in the Politics department and his position as co-director of FLEFF, though much better than he was 10 years ago, he adds.
“It took a lot of time just to figure out what it meant to organize a film festival,” says Shevory. “But when you’ve been doing it for a while, just like anything else, you start to figure things out and it makes it easier and more manageable.”
Shevory notes that planning an annual, weeklong festival, is quite the process.
“We start [planning] as soon as the festival from the previous year ends. By April or May, [Dr. Zimmermann] and I get together and decide on a theme for the next year, which actually takes some time. The theme helps us to organize our thoughts and then we go forward from there; we start to think about guests and films and about what the marketing and the artwork will be like. It’s absolutely a yearlong business.”
Shevory is particularly excited about the theme of this year’s festival: Dissonance. He notes that a lot of creativity comes from putting things together that don’t necessarily belong together: much like an environmental film festival featuring musical performances and lectures, in addition to films.
“I think we’ve got a reputation as being an interesting, innovative film festival that’s environmental but doesn’t always fit with the categories associated with an environmental film festival, and I think people find that intriguing.”
So what is his favorite part of this festival that he’s been so instrumental in shaping?
“The parties!” he laughs.
After chuckling to himself for a few minutes, Shevory adds:
“The parties are always fun because you get to talk to people. One of the main things I like about the festival is that some of the people we work with come back every year, so we get to re-establish those relationships we make. We have this huge group of collaborators and every year we get together and talk about ideas and go to screenings and it’s just so great. Just as with students, we [as faculty] are parts of departments and we sort of define ourselves within our departments; but FLEFF breaks down a lot of those walls that divide the campus in so many different ways. It broadens your connections with people in the college and people in the community and, to me, that is what’s really valuable.”
Dr. Shevory encourages students to get involved with the festival and to break down their own walls and make their own connections this year.
“It’s like what they say when people go to conferences: ‘All the really important work happens in the hallways.’ And it’s kind of the same thing with FLEFF, all of the really important things that happen, happen in the form of dialogue between the events. It creates its own environment… its own ecology: that’s what festivals do. I think we create our own really unique environment and I like being a part of it,” he concludes.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
Karissa Breuer, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '14, has two years of FLEFF under her belt. She shared her personal FLEFF experience, growth, and knowledge over e-mail.
When did you first join FLEFF?
I first joined FLEFF in 2012 when the theme was Microtopias, and was also an intern for last year's festival.
What made you decide to apply as a FLEFF intern?
I transferred to Ithaca College my sophomore year and had heard about FLEFF before coming here. I have always wanted to go to a film festival, so the opportunity to be involved with one was something I couldn't pass up.
What were you expecting and were those expectations met? Was there anything that you weren't expecting from working for FLEFF?
I tried to go in with an open mind and let the experience speak for itself, so to say. If I had any expectations, though, they were met and exceeded. I got the chance to watch films that I wouldn't have otherwise, as well as prepare for the screenings, help advertise the festival, attend Q & A sessions with the filmmakers, talk to them personally at after parties, and so much more. In a lot of ways, the things I didn't expect ended up being the most rewarding. That's what is exciting about a film festival like FLEFF, you never know who you are going to meet or how a film is going to affect and inspire you.
Describe how FLEFF was a growing experience for you.
Going into FLEFF, I didn't have much of an idea what to expect, but I had a feeling it was something special that I should be a part of. Everyone I met through FLEFF shared the same motivation and compassion for creating something much larger than ourselves to reach others, so that was a very inspiring and creative environment to work in. It also allowed me to push myself outside of my comfort zones in a lot of ways, because you have to be ready to help with anything; you need to be proactive. This isn't your typical experience in a classroom— you get hands on and engaged— which is what I truly loved about it. FLEFF was a special opportunity that I am thankful to have been a part of and would recommend to anyone interested in a unique learning experience.
How do you feel about this year's theme: Dissonance?
This year's theme is very open— dissonance more or less means some sort of disagreement. I think that a theme with this much accessibility and room for interpretation will result in a diverse program of films and events for FLEFF this year. I am very intrigued to see what FLEFF has in store!
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog post by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, NJ
Uncomfortable. Conflicting. Incompatible.
For me, the past year has been all about breaking out of my comfort zone, and that is reflected in the theme of this year’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
I’ve come a long way in the last 12 months: from a timid, nervous freshman to a confident woman figuring out who and where she wants to be in the world. I’ve broken down walls that I built up and pushed myself to the edge of what used to be my comfort zone.
As a Documentary Studies and Production major, I’m required to take courses in film, photography, and journalism. Film and photography have always excited me, but as a freshman with very little confidence in my writing ability, the idea of journalism classes made my stomach churn.
I felt awkward amongst my peers and every writing assignment took me an excruciatingly long time to complete.
But here I am, a year later, blogging for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival and writing for Buzzsaw Magazine. I pushed myself through all of my initial discomfort and found that I actually really like to write, and I’m not too bad at it either.
Dissonance is a clash of elements that produces an uncomfortable result.
I’m excited to explore the theme through films, performances, lectures, conversations, and by continuing to push myself out of my comfort zone each and every day.
What does Dissonance mean to you?
Friday, February 7, 2014
Blog post written by Lucy Yang, Journalism and Politics, ’14, FLEFF blogger, Puyang, Henan, China.
She seems to be quiet, but she’s a riot.
I had the honor to interview one of the assistants to the co-directors of FLEFF, Chenruo Zhang, and she left me with that impression.
Chenruo is a Communications major graduate student at Ithaca College. She grew up in Yixing, a small but historically significant city not far away from Shanghai, China. Before coming to Ithaca, N.Y., last summer, Chenruo spent her college life studying Radio and Television Journalism at Nanjing Forestry University.
These might all seem normal. What astonished me the most were two other things about her. These two stories unfold her qualities that she's not afraid of being different or breaking rules.
Most kids in China have to go through military trainings for about two or three times throughout their school years. I had one in middle school and one in high school, and I was supposed to have another one if I went to a college in China. But Chenruo had never completed any of her three trainings.
A lot of college students in China apply to be Communist Party members while they are in college. It is almost an unwritten social norm that being a party member equals to prestigious jobs. As Chenruo described, almost all her classmates had submitted the application for at least once, and throughout the four years of college, about half of her class ended up being party members. But she had never even applied.
I have never intended to be different in my whole life. I felt a bit ashamed comparing to Chenruo’s experiences.
When I think of this year’s FLEFF theme, “Dissonance,” I couldn’t help thinking of a rebel in a group, or how there should be a rebel, or even more, in a crowd that is blinded by authoritative forces. I think of the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution. I think of those large-scale “Red Songs” performances. Wouldn’t it be great if there were people who weren’t afraid of being different from the mass?
Just like what Chenruo said: “Everyone else doing something doesn’t mean it’s legitimate… We should be encouraged to break the rules and create something new, and that is what FLEFF is for.”
Chenruo Zhang's interview was originally conducted in Mandarin Chinese and was translated into English by Lucy Yang.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Blog posting written by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA
“So what you’re saying is that Afghans deserve the fate that the US Military has given them, that their history has led them to this very moment, that funneling in more US Military troops is some sort of destiny, that the civilians who may die in this process are just destined to do so?”
Do I support my beliefs and speak my mind, or do I continue playing my role and support my assigned side of the debate?
I first learned about dissonance in high school. During AP Psychology, we discussed cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger’s term for a human being torn between two ideas and trying to reconcile these two pieces of information to get out of this state of mental conflict.
Learning that term helped me understand many situations I had been put in, torn between two opposing situations, trying to resolve a moral quandary. Though cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable place to be in, I knew that it could allow immense moral, emotional and intellectual growth to occur.
During high school I was on the debate team. I joined the team to learn about political issues and develop my public speaking skills.
I loved debating, but there were always times during tournaments when I would be stuck representing a point of view that I did not agree with and had to choose whether I would continue playing the game or break character and throw the round, and my partner, in jeopardy.
I faced this dilemma every weekend. No matter how much I struggled to portray to my opposing point of view, it paid off by giving me insight into how other people think.
Dissonance, like FLEFF is about expanding our worldview.
Sitting through a film that upsets you, choosing to go to a performance that you wouldn’t normally pursue, attending a master class that seems intimidating are all experiences that FLEFF provides and if the festival-goer chooses to take the dissonant route at least once or twice during their journey, it will pay off.
Chenruo Zhang, FLEFF assistant to the co-directors, first heard the term dissonance when she saw the festival’s posters around campus.
“For me, [dissonance is connected to] culture,” Zhang said. “I don’t think there are so many Asians in this school. When I came here there were so many American students so for me, I am a dissonance here.”
Zhang, from Yixing, China, near Shanghai, had not thought much about the Chinese word for dissonance, bu he xie, before the festival. She said she is excited to go to the festival to learn more about dissonance.
How did you learn about dissonance?
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Blog posting by Alexis Lanza, Film Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
When I joined the FLEFF 2014 Blogging Team, I researched this year's theme: Dissonance. Many definitions I unearthed were negative, with heavy, slightly frightening connotations dangling from them.
“Dissonance sparks and ignites.”
FLEFF's definitions uses words like “tension,” “imbalance,” and “disharmony,” but it's this sentence that caught my attention. Rather than associating dissonance as an uncomfortable thing we'd rather avoid, we must embrace it. These kinds of situations, in which we might experience feelings of dissonance, are the situations which force us to grow.
Chenruo Zhang, FLEFF Assistant to the Codirectors, described dissonance in a similar way FLEFF does. “But that doesn't mean it's a bad thing or negativity. I think dissonance encourages us to break the rules which are out of date, and let us be flexible and creative.”
Chenruo is looking forward to the opportunities this year's FLEFF theme will bring. She experiences dissonance being an international student here at Ithaca College, but rather than feel overwhelmed, Chenruo finds delight in it. “I enjoy absorbing American culture since it's my studying aboard, and I don't want to be crowded by Chinese students as I had always been like that in my country. Vice versa, I'm bringing Asian culture to here as well.”
Dissonance is about a lack of balance within oneself. Everything in the world is searching for an equilibrium, and we strive for that in our personal lives as well, even if we may not always realize it. We are more closely related to the environment than we often acknowledge, and for a human to copy tactics from the natural world around us makes perfect sense.
Oftentimes, we are placed in situations that are beyond our control, but we can choose what we take away from these experiences. In high school, my U.S. History teacher read this quote to us from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I remember thinking to my 16- year- old self that Eleanor Roosevelt must have been a strong, brave woman to feel that way about the world.
What have you done lately that has made you grow?
Monday, February 3, 2014
Blog post written by Elma Gonzalez '14, FLEFF Blogger, Journalism, San Diego, CA.
In the past, FLEFF has explored themes that challenge the audience and encourage discussion of important social issues. This year is no different. The 2014 FLEFF theme, which is picked by festival directors, Dr. Patricia Zimmermann and Dr. Tom Shevory every year, is “Dissonance.”
The theme delves into the complexities that come with "difference." It highlights the disharmonious, cacophonous, and disruptive. Tiffani-Amber Muller, FLEFF assistant to the co-directors, describes it as an “all underlying” theme.
“It opens the door different kinds of films and different subjects,” she said. “Dissonance is such a great theme because it creates awkward tension it is all about clashing and the harmony not mixing. I know this one is going to be a good one.”
Though many of the well known international film festivals seem to stray away from focusing on a specific theme, FLEFF does not. Dr. Claudia Pederson, FLEFF assistant curator, explained via email themed festivals like FLEFF have been becoming more popular.
“[M]any festivals carve out specific foci, so along the more established festivals what you have today is a veritable explosion of 'themed' festivals around the world in a variety of formats. Some are static, some traveling, and some online.”
Providing a focus, she said, does not limit the intelligent dialogue festivals usually ignite.
"It is not so much used to circumscribe but to open up discussion. The idea is to disassemble the 'taken--granted', such that new thoughts and forms may emerge,” she said. “As a concept, Dissonance lends itself especially well to this idea if you approach it as both a reflection of our cultural condition and as a potential stimulus to change."
This year, we can expect a week of exciting films, discussions, and parties. It will be an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in intellectual life outside the classroom, Pederson said.
"Watch the films, converse with directors, go to concerts with your friends, attend the workshops, and if you are so inclined, the parties,” she encourages. “Come prepared with questions and an open-mind. Think of it as an exchange between people passionate about ideas. That is your common ground."
Events leading up to the festival have already begun with a screening of Ladies of the Gridiron on January 16 and the screening of Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life with a live performance by the Cloud Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with Cornell Cinema. There are several upcoming events you should attend. Follow our blog to stay updated.
What does "dissonance" mean to you?
Sunday, February 2, 2014
FLEFF theme of the year is DISSONANCE – a concept that begs resonates with the theorist but rings deeply with the personal. It is about many things: Clashing. Tension. Disharmony. Contradiction. Imbalance. All these buzzwords are encapsulated in the feeling of being an outsider on the inside.
Truly though, that is what’s so incredible about this year’s FLEFF theme. So many of us know that feeling of not belonging. But with that feeling we push forward, ignited by the freedom of being different. As the FLEFF definition puts it so well “dissonance pairs together the incompatible with results that surprise, offend, invite, disturb and excite, spurring action and creativity.”
FLEFF’s very own Ithaca College graduate student, Tiffani-Amber Muller, sees the festival’s theme as an opportunity to push her experience with dissonance. “On a personal level with dissonance, I am actually a walking example of dissonance! Lesbian cheerleader. It's basically unheard of in the world, but we do exist!”
She continues to say, “This is going to enhance my experience with FLEFF because I'm going into these topics knowing to expect some topics that are a little different and ‘not normal.’ They're going to push me out of my comfort zone, but I will learn from that and understand why I am pushed out of my comfort zone. That's really what dissonance is about!”
In my personal experience, dissonance truly resonates with my life. From being bullied about being Pansexual and quirky, to going places without a support system independently and alone, I also see this year’s festival as a chance to push my understandings of what is actually achievable and possible as an outsider on the inside.
What are your personal experiences with dissonance? What will the festival do for your self-reflection?
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Blog post written by Blaize Hall, Television-Radio Communications, '15, FLEFF blogger, Georgia, VT
Dissonance. The word strikes a chord within every musician who toils over notes that clash while simultaneously creating the esoteric thrill appreciated by those who thrive on disharmony. Dissonance; A word that evokes images of unsettled, restlessness. It is a word that embodies the quintessential human experience of dischord. We all need it. Humanity craves disagreement for the ways that it fuels the process of wrestling with theoretical challenges and being able to come to more solid personal conclusions through the struggle. FLEFF assistant, Tiffani Amber Muller, explained "Dissonance is something we don't necessarily stop to think about but we do experience every day of our lives".
The clash of ideologies has existed as long as there has been more than one person on the world, essentially for all time. Sometimes we break these contradictions into universally understood boxes of thought. The issue with this system lies in the fact that people are multifaceted, and the pieces of who we are don't always add up to fit into these groupings of thought created by society. Dissonance is a word that exemplifies all human conflict and disagreement. If we can allow ourselves to be open to this conflict not only between the different schools of thought with which we are comfortable seeing disagreement, but even among them, we can break new ground.
As we focus on dissonance as the theme of FLEFF 2014, we can prepare ourselves for the exciting opportunity to have our perceptions challenged, to meet disagreement with an open mind, and to allow ourselves to learn through the process of experiencing disharmony. Tiffany Amber Muller shared her thoughts on the theme for the festival. "I think its gonna be really eye opening, I think it's a unique theme, and I think it's a very broad spectrum. It allows new doors to open." I hope we all get to experience something at this year's festival that makes us uncomfortable and forces us to grow. I hope for conversations that display disagreements on the front lines, for films that cause us to fight for what we believe, and for lingering questions that unsettle us and inspire us to seek for answers in new places. Bring on the dissonance.
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?
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?