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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Blog posting written by Abby Sophir, Television-Radio ’14, FLEFF Intern, St. Louis, MO
It is hard to believe that FLEFF week has come and gone! Now that I’ve had some time to let the week sink in, several ideas from the films and panels stick out in my mind.
One of these is the question: How does one film in another country without exploiting the native people?
Both Rodrigo Bellott, casting director of Even the Rain, and Jeremy Levine, director of Good Fortune, offered insight into this question.
In Even the Rain, the extras that were cast were from Bolivia, where the film takes place, and many had fought in the water wars themselves. Rather than a bunch of foreigners coming in and telling the Bolivian’s how to portray what happened, the filmmakers listened to what the natives had to say. The director incorporated these people’s ideas and personal experiences into the film to make it more realistic and more of a collaborative effort.
Another thing Bellott mentioned that really caught my attention was that these extras did not want to be paid with cash for their work on the film. Rather, they believed that everyone in the community should benefit-- since those who weren’t acting had to compensate for the childcare and work of those who were. They asked the filmmakers to pay for a water well and other things that would benefit the community as a whole. The people of Cochabamba value community above all else and it was crucial that the film crew respect this request.
After the screening of Good Fortune, directer Jeremy Levine also talked about maintaing good relationships within a community where you are filming. Especially in a circumstance like the one in Kenya, where American companies were coming in and robbing the people of their water, the filmmakers has to be extra careful not to exploit the community and become one of the “bad guys”. In order to do this, they kept their crew extremely small, usually only two people, to eliminate any intimidation factor. They also got the community members involved, having them hold boom microphones and ask questions to those being interviewed.
The sensitivity these filmmakers paid to the local peoples and culture created environments of trust. Without this mutual respect, the production of these extremely powerful films would not have been possible.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Blog posting by Brian McCormick, Film & Photo '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
The last two nights have been very exciting for FLEFF! Now that the Cinemapolis screenings are underway it feels everyone has really gotten amped up!
The crowds down at the theater are very lively and energized. Every post-screening discussion has been full of energy and passion, since these issues and ideas are so important to the filmmakers and their audience. That's what makes seeing a film at FLEFF so unique -- the chance to talk to the filmmaker after the viewing.
Thursday night I saw "Even the Rain", a fiction feature film about a Spanish film crew making a movie in Bolivia amidst the Water Wars. In the film, the director casts a local Bolivian to play a major role. He soon finds out that this local is one of the prominent activists fighting for water and his rebellion throws the director and his crew through the biggest obstacles imaginable. I personally loved this film -- it really showcases the passion and determination put into filmmaking, as well as the passion of the locals to fight for water and essentially their lives.
Attending the screening was the film's casting director Rodrigo Bellot, an IC alum who it has been an absolute pleasure to have at FLEFF. Following the screening, Bellot conducted an enlightening Q&A, and he also spoke at the "How to Get Your Break" panel discussion yesterday evening.
Bellot will be at FLEFF again today -- don't miss the chance to meet him and the other FLEFF guests!
Last night, I then saw F. W. Murnau's "The Last Laugh" with live music performed by John Stetch. Really incredible. It felt very experimental in the way he would transition from scene to scene by isolating one sound or bringing a new one in, or just by changing the way he hit the drums or which keys he played. Keep in the mind the movie's original soundtrack is composed of an entire orchestra -- Stetch performed it by himself!
There will be two more silent film screenings with live music performances: Tonight, 7pm "Siren of the Tropics, and Tomorrow, 7pm "Storm Over Asia."
"Even the Rain" will also be screening again today -- go see it if you haven't!
Also, don't forget to head down to Delilah's for the after parties if you want to chat it up will all of the FLEFF guests!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Blog posting written by Abby Sophir, Television/Radio '14, FLEFF Intern, St. Louis, Missouri.
A big thanks to Lindsay Harrop for the Live Blog of the "How to Get Your Break" panel! And of course to Karin Chien, Tina Mabry, Rodrigo Bellott and Rodrigo Brandao for a very down-to-earth, fun and informational panel. While I highly suggest reading Lindsay's blog if you have the time, for those of you in a hurry, here's a more pithy version of the advice these professionals had to give.
1. It takes determination, focus and self-motivation to move up in the industry. Even if you’re working for free printing scripts and getting coffee, don’t take the easy way out.
2. Don’t ASK for favors, MAKE favors. In other words, make people owe you favors.
3. Going into the television industry we are told NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. But this does not mean waving your business card in everyone’s face. It is about making genuine connections.
4. Be knowledgeable about the industry, films, directors, etc. Know what’s going on.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of the business aspect of film and TV.
Tiny Mabry's film Mississippi Damned will be showing for a second time tomorrow at 4:10 PM. I saw a showing tonight and it was fabulous! Rodrigo Bellott's film Even the Rain about water wars in Bolivia will also show for a second time tomorrow at 7:30 PM. Make sure to get to Cinemapolis early, it sold on on Thursday night! Karin Chien's award-winning film Disorder will also show tomorrow at 2:10!
Don't miss out on these great opportunities to watch provoking films followed by intimate discussions with the directors!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon
Even the Rain just finished screening and I have to say that is was AMAZING. A great film and one that I'm so glad I got to see on the big screen. We had a Q&A with casting director (and IC alum!) Rodrigo Bellott after the screening. Here are some highlights from the Q&A:
A: Would you call it a docu-drama?
RB: Yeah but everything was re-created... Daniel was part of the Gas Wars, not the Water Wars. He's not a trained actor. In the original screenplay his character is forty but we adjusted the screenplay to fit this actor. Belen is from the community. So is Theresa.
A: How did you pay the indigenous people?
RB: We asked them how they wanted to get paid. They said they didn't want money. For them, this is a community thing. They wanted things that benefited the community. So we're building schools, we got them a road truck, that sort of thing.
A: How did you become a casting director after graduating from IC?
RB: I still don't know what the hell is going on. I'm also a filmmaker and made a film right after graduation called "Sexual Dependency," which was Bolivia's official Oscar entry for 2004. For some random reasons Terrence Mallick saw this in Berlin. From there Steven Soderbergh saw it and asked me to help him cast "Che." I had no idea how to cast a film. But Benecio Del Toro got Best Actor at Cannes and Stephen said, "Be careful, you're going to be casting a lot of other films."
Rodrigo also talked about the process of casting the actor who played Daniel, saying that he couldn't find the right person for the script. Eventually, he found Juan Carlos Aduviri, a nonprofessional actor who had been part of the Gas Wars. A lot of the extras in the film were people involved in the actual Water Wars in Bolivia. Rodrigo said, "This is there film... We were lucky to have the real people involved in these events."
This was a SOLD OUT screening, so thanks to everyone who showed up! Rodrigo Bellott will be on campus tomorrow (Friday, April 15) as part of the "How to Get Your Break" Panel at 4:00 in Williams 225. If you missed tonight, "Even the Rain" will be screening again Saturday, April 16 at 7:10.