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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Blog post by Blaize Hall, Television-Radio Communications, '15, Georgia, VT
We meet in “the Pub” or IC Square, which is noisy and crowded with students having lunch, working on projects and studying. She rushes over to the table, carrying a large school bag. Leah Galant is a busy girl.
The first few minutes of our conversation consist of swapping stories of our jam-packed weeks, with assignments due before Spring Break, and our multitude of other extracurricular commitments outside of FLEFF.
The FLEFF student positions have undergone much restructuring for the 2014 festival. More clearly defined responsibilities for bloggers and interns has translated into a more concrete hierarchy of communication within the FLEFF staff. Leah works as the Assistant to the Internship Coordinator for FLEFF this year.
Leah serves as a liaison to the Internship Coordinator, and also works to aid the two Assistants to the Co-directors, Tiffani-Amber Muller, and Chenruo Zhang in their communications with the interns. Leah fields questions from her peers, and is taking a role in planning the intern retreat, a training event for the intern team.
Leah has a history with FLEFF, having served as an intern and a team leader in past years. She also works for the All American High School Film Festival as a volunteer coordinator. “It’s been a really exciting experience to work for festivals, to help plan, to recruit volunteers, to promote them, and it’s so rewarding when it all comes together. It’s really rewarding,” she said.
Future career goals for Leah involve combining her knowledge of film festivals with her passion for documentary work. Last semester she worked on a student documentary called “Beyond the Wall” about a man recently released from the Auburn Correctional Facility after about twenty years . The film examined what reintegration into society is like post-prison. She and her team already sold the viewing rights to Cornell University and are currently submitting the film to festivals and waiting to hear back.
Documentary studies majors at Ithaca College have to acquire a minor to round out their education. Leah studies sociology for her minor. She explained, “I think it’s a great combination with documentary film making. In order to make something that you’re going to show the public, it’s important to have a sociological background so you’re not doing more injustice to the film. If you are trying to make a film for social change, this understanding will help it actually be effective.”
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?
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Blog post written by Blaize Hall, Television-Radio Communications, '15, Georgia, Vermont
Pizza from Sammy’s, gorge jumping, picnics at Buttermilk Falls, great theatre at Dillingham, Apple Fest, Chili Fest, ICTV, The Ithacan, bagels from the Ithaca Bakery. All of these are special traditions of Ithaca. FLEFF, however, offers something more. The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival is a tradition with a purpose.
FLEFF has been an important establishment in Ithaca for 17 years. What began as an outreach project by the Center for Environment at Cornell University in 1997, has become a popular event, highly anticipated by Ithaca College students and faculty, Ithaca residents, and visitors from afar. The broad range of artistic displays, coupled with the focused genre of environmental films make this festival relatable to a wide audience, but still allow for unique themes, (like this year’s theme of Dissonance!). It’s location in Ithaca gives it an approachable low-key feel, while also being a hotspot for activists, world-renowned artists, and film historians alike, and providing the opportunity for meaningful connections. And that’s ultimately the purpose of film festivals, to make those connections and learn not only from the films, but from the guests, and other participants in the festival.
All of these factors make FLEFF a truly valuable Ithaca tradition, one that students should NOT miss out on while they’re here! I’m looking forward to seeing A Touch of Sin at the 2014 festival. What films do YOU want to see this year?
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Blog posting written by Isabel Galupo, Cinema and Photography, ’14, FLEFF Intern, Towson, Maryland.
Nomenclature. Lackadaisical. Coagulation.
These are just a few of my favorite words.
To me, understanding and respecting the power of words is a crucial skill for all people living in today’s world. Words can inspire life-changing epiphanies and spark revolutions. Words have the power to affect individual people at their very cores, while simultaneously resonating with entire communities and populations. Words can create significant and extraordinary change.
My love and respect for words is what brought me from my hometown of Towson, Maryland to Ithaca College. I entered my freshman year with a brand new pack of Black Papermate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens (which I highly recommend!) and an eagerly declared Journalism major.
However, I quickly discovered that my true passion lay in writing for film and switched my major to Cinema and Photography, with a concentration in Screenwriting. As an avid reader (I am currently in the middle of Michael Ondaatje's poetry collection The Cinnamon Peeler and Anne E. Kornblut's work Notes from the Cracked Ceiling), I use my love for words to connect to the Ithaca community and volunteer with The Family Reading Partnership. I enjoy playing with words to craft my own creative writing, in addition to writing Draft Resolutions during Model United Nations conferences where I represent the IC Model UN Team.
My love for words is also what prompted me to intern for the 15th annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival this semester. This year, the backbone of FLEFF is one singular word: “microtopias.” Though FLEFF co-directors Thomas Shevory and Patricia Zimmermann did an excellent job breaking down the nuances surrounding the word on the festival home page, I am excited to see how FLEFF will provide moviegoers, directors, students, artists, intellectuals, writers, readers, and dreamers a space to explore the multitude of meanings and possibilities behind the word “microtopias.”
Most importantly, however, FLEFF provides us all with the opportunity to reflect on the term “film festival.” At first glance, the definition of this word may seem straightforward. However, FLEFF’s interdisciplinary nature challenges all of us to question what we think we know about the limits of film festivals and the parameters of art.
Words are all around us. We often take them for granted, never pausing to savor the complexity and possibility that lies behind each and every one of them. In the upcoming weeks, I challenge all of you to practice challenging yourself in the way that FLEFF surely will. Ask yourselves: What is your favorite word? What possibilities lie within the multiple definitions of that word? How can you widen your understanding of words in order to effectively use them in our exciting and ever-changing society?