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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Ithaca's very own Cloud Chamber Orchestra will be playing an original live score to the classic documentary, Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, this Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. The beautiful interior of the chapel should make a pleasant backdrop for what is sure to be an unforgettable performance by an incredible group of musicians.
Consisting of local musicians Robby Aceto, Peter Dodge, and Chris White, the Cloud Chamber Orchestra is an improvisational group that specializes in live film scores for silent films.
The group has performed original, improvised film scores for films such as Nanook of the North, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and The Great White Trail, among others, and continues to be an annual favorite at FLEFF favorite.
White, the cellist of the group, says that the excitement of playing an improvised score comes from "playing with such good musicians and improvisers" but also "the unknowns that go along with [playing live music] with the film in front of a live audience."
Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life is considered by many to be the first ethnographic documentary. Made in 1925, the film follows a group of people from the Bakhtiari tribe of modern-day Iran as they lead their herds of livestock on a treacherous, annual journey through a mountain range to better pastures.
Says White "It is a documentary, but it's also a story, and such a grand story that you forget it's a documentary."
Despite the inherent difficulties in scoring a documentary, White insists that the story in the documentary is so compelling that improvisation won't be much more difficult than it would be for a narrative film.
"We usually prepare by first watching the film, either individually or together, and then we talk about it," says White.
"Often we'll come up with general strategies of musical style and instrumentation. Peter and Robby both play multiple instruments while I usually stick to the cello. Then we begin rehearsing by improvising while we watch the film. Each time we play with the film the music is different because it's all improvised, but each time we are getting to know the film better, and our interpretation becomes more firmly established and more closely aligned with the film and how we want the score to sound for the movie we're working with."
The screening of Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life, kicks off at 7:30 PM this Tuesday, January 28th at the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. Get there early so you can get a front row seat to see Ithaca's favorite musical group (and a sneak peak of what their performance at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival will be like!).
What was your favorite Cloud Chamber Orchestra performance?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Blog posting written by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production, ’14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA
My name is Kayla Reopelle and I’m one of the new bloggers for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival! I am a senior Documentary Studies and Production major with minors in Honors and Politics, Model UN delegate, and co-editor for Buzzsaw Magazine’s multimedia section, Seesaw.
Before I came to Ithaca College, I didn’t have a passport.
I’m from a small town in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State called Roy. Known for the bi-annual Roy Rodeo, my hometown is something a little different. I’m drawn back to its breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and churches converted into gun shops.
I was eager to get out and explore the world, try new things, and my studies allowed me to do just that. I’ve traveled to three continents, worked with a radio show that features Incarcerated Voices, and found inspiration in new media theories that push me to tell stories in interactive ways.
FLEFF is one of the highlights of my spring semester.
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival gives me and other Ithaca College students a chance to meet filmmakers, artists, musicians and scholars, to see banned films, and push ourselves to think about the festival’s theme beyond conventional limits. When I heard this year’s theme was dissonance, I knew I wanted to be a blogger. More on that next week!
I’m very excited for FLEFF’s screening of Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) this Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30pm in the Sage Chapel at Cornell University. The Cloud Chamber Orchestra will be performing a live score to the silent documentary.
I’ve seen the Cloud Chamber Orchestra at previous FLEFF’s and every performances brought a fresh reading to the film being screened. I hope to see you there!
What keeps you coming back to FLEFF every year?
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Blog posting written by Ian Carsia, Cinema & Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Hamilton, NJ
6:51 p.m. Blogging live with Robby Aceto. Aceto will be performing in a live musical accompaniment of "Nanook of the North" for FLEFF 2012.
6:53 p.m. FLEFF T-SHIRTS ARE IN!
6:57 p.m. This will be the fourth time Robby and his co-conspirators have performed at FLEFF.
"Who has heard of Nanook of the North?"
100% of hands shoot up.
"Who has seen Nanook of the North?"
90% of hands go down.
WE ARE HERE TO LEARN!
7:02 p.m. Robby Aceto: "Right now, you don't have to convince anyone. You can just do it."
7:05 p.m. Robby Aceto: "The biggest problem that a group [of artists] has to overcome...is connecting with the mindset of someone 100 years ago making a film."
7:08 p.m. Robby Aceto: "We've narrowed our expectation of what a film is supposed to be."
7:11 p.m. Robby Aceto: "My approach to an instrument is to use it in a textural way."
7:17 p.m. Robby Aceto: "First, we try to get into the mindset of the filmmaker: What would he want?...Even if it looks silly to you, you have to remind yourself 'This guy was deadly serious' about whatever it was...And as far as doing it differently...just as a matter of course, it's going to be different."
7:43 p.m. Screening clips of accompanyment with Ernst Lubitsch's 1921 film The Wild Cat (Dr. Zimmermann: "The only German expressionist comedy.")
7:50 p.m. Robby Aceto: "Once you step into the realm of "This is what is happening on screen," you take it away from the audience."
7:54 p.m. About to screen a clip from 1925's Grass.
7:56 p.m. Robby Aceto: "None of the musicians know what the other's going to do...Not so much "call-and-response," more like...reaction..."