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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, February 21, 2014
Sundance. Venice. Cannes. Berlin. Tribeca. Austin. Hot Docs. Ann Arbor.
Well-known film festivals from around the big wide world have the glamour of foreign lands and international fame. However, for college student, affording trips and tickets to these fabulous events can be difficult, to say the least.
Which brings me to FLEFF – an intellectually engaging, thought provoking film festival. And it’s right here in Ithaca.
Recently, the FLEFF blogging team generated a list of 17 reasons Ithaca students should attend FLEFF, in honor of its 17th birthday. Presenting Number 16: You don't have to go to France to experience a film festival.
FLEFF has everything and more: censored films such as the upcoming “A Touch of Sin,” captivating performances by world renowned musician Jairo Geronymo, remarkable guest speakers, and explorative new media artists like Nicholas Knouf.
Stay close in Ithaca. Have some popcorn. Go to FLEFF. There’s no place like home, right?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Blog posting written by Timna Mayer, Violin Performance,'15, FLEFF blogger, Salzburg, Austria
My name is Timna Mayer. Yes, it’s Tim-na (people usually have trouble understanding my name so I’m just making sure). Anyway, I’m Timna and I come from Salzburg, Austria. Austria is the tiny country right next to Germany (just in case you were wondering). I came here to Ithaca about 1.5 years ago, with only one suitcase and a violin.
I left my home, because, even though Austria is a wonderful country, I had always been feeling as if I didn’t quite fit in- into the bigger picture; a bigger picture drawn precisely, in simple colors (not too bright) and planned out into its greatest detail. I had always been spontaneous, a bit dramatic (as my parents would say) and, most of all, driven by the idea of living a life as a free artist (call me an idealist!).
Born in Austria, the glory land of mountains and Dirndl-dresses, there was no place for an alternative musician like me- with terrible yodeling skills and a natural disinterest for Mozart. I was, as you will, the part of the picture where the artist accidently sneezed or spilled color- a part in blurred lines that was unplanned. In my world, the world of music, they’d call me a dissonance.
So there I was, a dissonance in a perfect Mozart piece, and after 23 years of searching for release, I finally decided to get on my feet and make a change. At a slapping pace, I left everything I knew, packed my life into a suitcase and got on a plane. Aiming for something greater or, without setting my expectations too high, at least something different.
For those who know Ithaca, the fact that I ended up here shouldn’t be a surprise. Ithaca: home for people of any kind and hot spot for artists, intellectuals and hedonists; a place with a sweet aftertaste of homelike idyll.
It didn’t take me a long time to find myself a home and a place to study. Ithaca College welcomed me with open arms, with a sense of personal warmth I had never experienced before. In Ithaca, and at Ithaca College, I immediately felt as if I had finally arrived; as if I had finally found a place that wouldn’t only allow me to be me, but would also help me embrace it.
No one has ever told me how to live my dreams. There’s no recipe for it and no manual. I’ve surely heard stories of princesses being rescued by a prince in shining armor, but I never thought it could happen to me. It sounds cliché when people come to America and talk about the “American dream”, but it happens- at least sometimes. At least it happened to me. My dream came true; I could finally be me.
Today, 1.5 years after my arrival, I can say that Ithaca and the people here have changed me; they have changed me in so many ways. It was here that I grew up, found my voice as a violinist and was culturally and intellectually encouraged on my way to becoming a professional musician. I performed countless concerts, I was taught and supported by highly qualified professors and I was engaged in many astounding cultural events such as the FLEFF film festival.
When I was younger, my mom used to tell me “When you find something good- share it”. After “finding” Ithaca, I felt the strong need to share my luck and what I know about this wonderful place. I wanted to become an active part of this city.
During my first semester at Ithaca College, I stumbled on a class called FLEFF Festivals: Politics and Practices in Creative Industries. Even though this class had nothing to do with my major (violin performance), I was fascinated by the idea of being part of such an important event for our college and city. But not only that, because I grew up in Europe where film festivals are highly celebrated for representing nations, I also saw this film class as an opportunity for me to finally be involved; involved in getting this city “out there”.
One year later, after experiencing FLEFF 2013, I can say that participating in this festival was one of the best decisions I have made. Only in Ithaca can a student like me get the chance to experience all kinds of cultural features this city has to offer, in only one week (and there are plenty, trust me!). Film screenings, concerts, international guest speakers, flash mobs, intercultural exchange, etc. I knew from the start: This festival is Ithaca, the way I love and appreciate it.
After participating in this event for the first time, I was sure there was no better way for me to share my fascination with Ithaca than by being part of FLEFF. Ithaca has given me so much more than I expected and I want to share this experience by representing this place in the best possible way. I want to give more people the chance to experience what I’ve experienced and to become as happy with Ithaca as I am.
My name is Timna Mayer and I’m proud to say that I’m here now, representing Ithaca as a blogger for the FLEFF festival 2014.
My team and I welcome you to Ithaca, our home.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I'm sitting in at what is arguably the most exciting FLEFF event: FLEFF Lab Friday!
Directors, producers, distributors, and scholars have been sitting in Park 220 all day long, speaking with students and amongst themselves about a wide variety of topics.
Right now, Yong Ki Jeong (film director, Couples, Once Upon a Time) and translator, Changhee Chun (Cinema, Ithaca College), Peter Miller (film director, AKA Doc Pommus), Carlos Gutierrez (Cinema Tropical), Bo Wang, (director, China Concerto), Kevin Lee, (dGenerate Films), Dominica Dipio (film director and film scholar), and Vanessa Domico (Outcast Films) are sitting together at the front of the room, waiting to share their secrets of the industry and answer questions.
Moderator Steve Gordon (TVR, Ithaca College) has each guest introduce himself or herself by sharing his or her own personal story. Their backgrounds are all extremely different; some guests started in film, others started with Physics degrees, and still others began their careers as activists.
What did they do to end up where they are? What advice do they have to offer to other people looking to pursue similar careers?
Here are some quotes from the conversation:
Kevin Lee: "Whatever you do, do with a real sense of purpose. Don't do anything because you feel trapped or pressured into it."
Vanessa Domico: "I couldn't agree with Kevin more. Do what you're passionate about. This sounds like a cliche, but I really mean it: embrace the moment. You need to keep your eyes open to see all the opportunities."
Peter Miller: "I had many breaks along the way. I basically apprenticed for a very long time with a lot of different people. Now I make my own films, but working with people who have done this for a while, who really know what they're doing, is so important. It's something I really think we have to do to learn how to tell the stories we want to tell."
Kevin Lee: "A lot of students in the past have been really surprised that I had a day job for about ten years that was completely unrelated to film. If you're planning on going to Los Angeles or New York, looking for your big break, don't expect that things will just fall into place. You need to hustle and work hard."
"Pursue your passion any way you can and stay open to different things. Sometimes things just organically crystalize into opportunities that you never expected. Your life and your career are things that happen when you're busy working on other things."
The group discusses the power of social media, with Lee and Dipio referencing the Kony 2012 video as an example of a film that gained support through outlets like YouTube and Facebook.
Yong Ki Jeong:"Social networking allows films to reach larger, international audiences. Korean filmmakers get more support for international works than they do for domestic works."
Discussing activism, and film's ability to introduce activist notions in the minds of viewers, as well as playing off of Jeong's mentioning of Seoul, South Korea, Miller offers: "Go into a co-production with your soul, do something that means a lot to you."
Peter Miller: "It's especially important, since you're young and trying to change the world, to get inside yourself and realize what you're trying to do. Just because you're trying to make money, doesn't mean you should do something. The world needs your talent to make things better."
Vanessa Domico: "Know yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. It's good to work with collaborators. A lot of the time you're going to have to assemble a team of people to work with who can fill in your gaps."
The panel is open to questions!
Q: Are there any outlets that are especially supportive of independent films?
Peter Miller: "There are some organizations that give money out to independent films, but the budgets are growing smaller and smaller. Sometimes individual people give money. When asking for money, you need to know two things:
1. Learn to write well. Being able to write about and explain your film is as important as your film itself.
2. Have a sample of your film to show."
Carlos Gutierrez: "That's an open issue. Sometimes individual fundraising sites like that take away from a larger discussion of independent distribution and production. I think that we need to come together as a community of independent filmmakers to find more sources of funding."
The conversation continues about various sources of funding and questions about receiving and asking for grants. It opens up to a conversation about the need for a close film community with which to collaborate and on which to depend.
Q: If you have something you're very passionate about, but don't think that anyone would be interested in, do you still make it?
Kevin Lee: "That question is different in regards to Chinese film. In China, a lot of things can get banned or removed from the internet, but a lot of Chinese filmmakers are very persistent. Audience is very important, so filmmakers aren't making films just for themselves, they're making films on social issues that they want other people to see.
Carlos Gutierrez: "Thinking about the audience can be tricky, because you're just projecting your own ideas on how the audience will react. I think it's more about the relevance of the film: social and economical relevance is most important."
Dominica Dipio: "Personally, a lot of the filmmakers in my country are independent and self-motivated, and a lot of things that motivate them are relevant social issues and the potential for change. So when I feel passionately about something, I am the first judge of its relevance. But sometimes it turns out to be what people want to hear and what they would like to reflect on."
Q: Do you think having a graduate education is beneficial or necessary in establishing yourself in a film-related career?
Peter Miller: "If you want to teach, you probably need an advanced degree. Teaching is one way that people subsidize their filmmaking habits."
Kevin Lee: "I'm pursuing a higher degree because I'm based in Chicago, and a lot of the community there is academia-based. That's just me, though. Sometimes you can learn more from collaboration or apprenticeship than you can learn in school."
The conversation ends with the discussion of a need for a film community. Use FLEFF as your opportunity to start establishing YOUR own community of filmmakers, audience members, and professionals!
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Intern, Houston, Texas
Hello FLEFFers! Can't make it to the FLEFF Lab in Park 220? No problem! I'm here live blogging to bring you the highlights!
And due to a last minute change, filmmaker Bo Wang, the first Chinese filmmaker to attend FLEFF, will be doing a presentation this hour.
Bo directed a film called China Concerto at 4PM and 9PM tomorrow at Cinemapolis. dGenerate films brings underground, new generation Chinese cinema out of China. This new generation of films emerged post-Tiananmen with a new, radical spin.
"Set the stage for us and walk us through China," Dr. Patricia Zimmermann began the
Bo described a brief history of China. After Mao died in 1976, the country began to adopt capitalism.
"It's been described as socialism with Chinese characters," said Bo.
After 1989 and the incident at Tiananmen Square, a new movement emerged. It began with the avant-garde movement which was politically driven in the form of personal expression. However, many movies continued to be censored. In the 90s, many artist began making movies and used connections in the western world to distribute the Chinese independent filmmaking.
In August, Bo attended a film festival in Beijing, one of the biggest in China. During this time, there was a significant party shift in Chinese government.
Bo described the interruption by the government: "After a half hour of the festival beginning, the electricity was cut...There was a back and forth resistance from the festival, but eventually, the festival was shut down."
After the festival shut down, the films became even more independent, often being shown in artists' studios or houses. Therefore, Bo's film, China, was never shown in an actual festival.
Although he is very involved in Chinese filmmaking today, Bo did not begin college as a filmmaker. He originally planned to go into the sciences, but he felt that he could connect with people more through art and film.
"Do you worry about censorship at all?" asked a member of the audience.
"I'm not attacking any specific person or authority," answered Bo. "I also did not expect this film to have a public showing in China. I think it should be okay. It should be safe."
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
And once again we are back in Park 220 for FLEFF Lab Friday. Kelly Matheson from WITNESS is here and Dr. Patricia Zimmermann is moderating this hour. Come on by!
Kelly begins with the well-known video of Rodney King. It was the catalyst for witness and proved that video could enact social action and change. So, they got together and got video cameras all over to record stories all around. And for 20 years, after working through many issues, they are working to create many international videos and tell compelling stories.
QUESTION: Who is Oscar Grant?
How do you get your video seen when there is an absurd saturation of digital media out there? That is an issue that Kelly and others like her deal with constantly.
Informed consent is the current topic of Kelly's. She is screening clips from a huge variety of projects. Including a short from her TRUST series about youths fighting climate change.
An new take is how to take perpetrator shot video and turn it back onto the perpetrators, as opposed to the humiliation to the victim intended by the original video.
Verification is another thing that needs to be analyzed. Kelly cites the website storyful.com as a source for validation of video for news. Here is the fireball example that Kelly cites.
"Technology is always a double-edged sword."
QUESTION: What do you do when your documentary or video risks the well-being of your subject?
The question of reconciliation is a major talking point during the discussion. And it may bery well be added to Kelly's list of major things to think about when dealing with video. We need to determine how citizen-shot footage will allow usage in things like court cases and how they can be verified.
What does it mean when that image is recorded, circulates, or as evidence?
The ethics behind the usage of a video as evidence requires it to have a much more intense method of verification.
"Give the archive love. They are the unsung heroes."
Monday, April 1, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, MD
Welcome to FLEFF's opening day and the first of many live blogs of the week.
We have concluded our discussion, but at 10:00AM-10:50AM in Park 220 Ulises Mejias will lead a discussion about Augmented Reality Games
ULISES MEJIAS: OFF THE NETWORK
"Networks increase participation, but also increase inequality."
"It's not if we shape our tools or if our tools shape us, but how."
Mejias' agenda includes "thinking the network" and then how we are to then "unthinking the network" to get us to move beyond network logic through many strategies, like intensification.
First, what is a network?
1. Nodes (each one of us)
2. Links (similar interests)
The problem with this type of "nodocentrism" is that a node cannot connect to anything except other nodes. Take your friend who refuses to make a Facebook page, you may realize the trouble they have getting party and event invitations since people only invite people currently on Facebook. This is an issue with social networking.
And, while those with few connections still grow (the poor), those with large networks (the rich) will rapidly gain more connections. This is a preferential system where Mejias says "the rich get richer."
"[Networks] are shaping the way we think about friends."
A network in Facebook or media terms is something very specific. It is a template created that is altering the way we think about things like friends and likes. It is software and programming that is reprogramming our mind based on algorithms.
It has moved from a network as a metaphor to a network as a template.
Mejias also explains the change from old media as a "one-to-many" monopoly to a new media "many-to-many" perfect competition.
However, monopsony is the economics of new media, it is a "many-to-one" approach.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Can these metrics help us catch terrorists? How?
"The sacrifices in privacy may not be worth the gains."
Inequality through participation takes many forms. This includes surveillance, filtering, blocking, psyops, spambots, and the loss of freedom of speech.
This is done by organizations and companies that run social media networks. Using fake accounts to spread propaganda, deleting so-called "problematic" accounts, and simply shutting off the network are all possibilities that can limit the people utilizing the network.
QUESTION: What are the power dynamics between activists, hackers, and the media?
SHORT SCREENING: Virtual Revolution, a BBC documentary.
"Dissent will only become possible in the spaces outside of the social networks."
We need to look into the spaces between the nodes. We must see the paranodes are the resisters, the rejecters, the expelled, and the excluded.
Paranodality: the outside of the network is not empty but inhabited by multitudes that do not conform to the organizing logic of the network.
And once we reach these paranodes and maintain a MOBILITY between being in a network to being outside of it we can find power (intensification).
QUESTION: Is it easier to express dissent inside or outside the network?
Monday, March 18, 2013
Blog post written by Kristen Tomkowid, Journalism '15, FLEFF Intern, Poughkeepsie, New York
Nicholas DiEugenio is an assistant professor in the IC School of Music with specialties in violin and chamber music. At this year's festival, Carmina Burana will be performed by local musicians. DiEugenio talked about his involvement with this performance.
Kristen Tomkowid: How did you become a part of FLEFF?
Nicholas DiEugenio: I'm extremely privileged to live in Ithaca and to teach violin at the IC School of Music. One of my colleagues, Deborah Martin, is organizing this year's FLEFF performance of Carmina Burana, and she asked if I would be interested in participating. Of course I was glad to accept the offer!
KT: Have you ever performed Carmina Burana before? If yes, where/when?
ND: I have never been a part of a performance of this work before. However, even if I had, I would not have done anything like what I am doing in this particular performance. Since we will be using many instruments to cover vocal parts (both solo parts and choral parts), I will actually be playing my violin in an attempt to evoke a soprano soloist in two specific moments in the cantata. This is kind of like the reverse of a "pants" role, which might seem rare, though I do get to do this quite often as a violinist! I wonder if it is the first time that this type of musical impersonation has ever been done with Carmina Burana.
KT: What is your favorite part of the piece and why?
ND: I'm not sure that I have a "favorite part" of the piece, but I think my favorite aspect of this piece is its original conception. It was designed to be a piece of music to go with visual movement. It's often performed as a concert cantata, but its birth as a piece of multimedia art gives it a tremendous adaptability, and creative directors can take it in many different directions. It's no wonder that this quality has been exploited over the years in commercial advertising--my brain always associates the opening of Carmina Burana with a desire to join the Marines, and I wonder why! So, the music has this "empty vessel" quality which is actually quite potent when combined with strong visual imagery, and I think that is what I appreciate most about this piece.
KT: What do you want people to take away from the performance?
ND: Hopefully this performance will be memorable for all of its musical innovation (down-scaling to two pianos, using instrumentalists to cover vocal parts, using the Trombone Troupe to cover chorus parts!), and for its powerful visual imagery in conjunction with the music. These aspects will make the performance unique, and hopefully any person in attendance will enjoy and remember a unique artistic experience which crosses boundaries and blends many senses.
KT: Are you going to see anything else FLEFF is doing? If yes, what are you most excited for?
ND: There are a few films programmed at the Ithaca Cinemapolis that are of particular interest to me; since I've recently traveled to both Russia and China to perform, I am interested to see China Concerto, Lost Boys, and No Problem. I'm also really interested in October, a silent movie for which the Cloud Chamber Orchestra will provide live music.
Will we see you at Carmina Burana?
Monday, February 25, 2013
Blog post written by Kristen Tomkowid, Journalism '15, FLEFF Blogger, Poughkeepsie, New York.
A few days ago, I had the privilege of talking with Ithaca College Associate TVR Professor and film maker John Scott. We talked about his involvement in FLEFF, both past and present.
Some background on John: He received his BFA in Film Production from Concordia University in 1990, his BA in Honors English from Dalhouse Universtiy in 1992 and his MFA in Film and Video Production from The University of Iowa in 1999. He has directed over a dozen independent documentary projects and one feature-length documentary called The Scouts Are Cancelled. Some of John's more recent work will be shown at the upcoming FLEFF Kick-Off on March 3rd. Below is a glimpse of our conversation together:
Kristen Tomkowid: How did you get involved with FLEFF?
John Scott: I had a feature length documentary shown in FLEFF in 2008 and a short film in Upstate Shorts last year, but I've been going to FLEFF for years.
KT: What are you showing at the FLEFF Preview this year?
JS: One is a repeat of the short shown last year, One Art, which is part of a series of shorts based on Elizabeth Bishop poems. The other screening is of Notes on Liberty, a full length film made with his wife, Karen Rodriguez, in 2009, about a boys trip to the Statue of Liberty and how that contrasts the current immigration issues. I was always ambivalent to the Statue due to problems with immigration. I decided to make the movie because, for my son's fifth birthday, he wanted to go the Statue and I was divided about the trip. It has toured all over the world.
KT: Have you looked at this year's line-up of films?
JS: I haven't really looked at it, yet, but I am going to try to see 5 Broken Cameras.
John's looking forward to see Emad Burnat's documentary. What are you looking forawrd to see at the festival?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Blog posting written by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio ’14, FLEFF Intern, Ashland, Massachusetts.
Getting excited for the FLEFF March 3rd Kickoff Screening? I know I am! I'm even more excited for the screening after getting the chance to speak with Karen Rodriguez, the curator for this year's screening. Read on to learn about the purpose of the screening, the filmmakers you can expect to meet, and the works you can expect to see!
Chloe Wilson: For those who aren't very familiar with FLEFF, can you give a quick description about what this year's Kickoff Screening is for?
Karen Rodriguez: This screening is for two things. It starts the FLEFF season is comprised of films that have already been screened at FLEFF in the past years and that are made by local filmmakers. The second reason is that it’s a also a fundraiser for Cinemapolis. The theater is in the process of transitioning to digital projection and we’re helping to raise money for them for their purchases of new digital projectors.
CW: Are the filmmakers from the entirety of upstate New York or specifically Ithaca?
KR: Some of them are faculty at IC, some of them are faculty at other colleges in the areas - like Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It’s an opportunity to highlight local filmmakers and to get the FLEFF season off to a start.
CW: As the curator of this year's screening, can you tell me about your role in organizing this event?
KR: As the curator, I look at work and talk to people about what is new, what do they have available to be screened. Then once I have a list of potential films, I try to choose films that work together and that compliment each other as well as show diversity in the subject matter and also in the approach. Then I coordinate information and such – working with the filmmakers and figuring out how to get the files from them to Cinemapolis. I also contacted Leah Shafer and I asked her to moderate the discussion after the screening.
CW: Each year, FLEFF has a new theme, and this year it's mobilities. Does the Kickoff Screening also have a theme?
KR: I didn’t choose a theme for the screening. I think there are some approaches or stylistic approaches that have emerged from this group and I think there’s a strong emphasis on the visual overall, but there is no explicit theme.
CW: What can you tell me about this year's films?
KR: For some of the films, there’s a sense of poetry, like the films are adaptations of poems, but some aren’t adaptations and still have a poetic quality to them. That’s about half the films. The other half are narratives with local actors and stories. I think it’s a strong slate of films. There’s a music video by a local musician – Mary Lorson – directed by a local filmmaker and that’s a lot of fun and the music is great. There’s a piece about post-9/11 America and immigration policy. There’s also a narrative piece about a child and she has two moms and she’s wondering where her Dad is. It’s a really interesting piece, especially since gay marriage has become legal and it’s a question that people will be asking. It’s done in a really positive and thoughtful way.
CW: Is there anything else that you would want a FLEFFer to know about the screening?
KR: I think the screening reflects a lot of diversity that we have in the area and the depth of the talent that we have in the terms in the filmmaking, storytelling, and the acting as well. There’s some terrific acting and filmmakers. It's a great way to start off the FLEFF season.
Are you excited for the Kickoff Screening?
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
I’m not the only person coming back to FLEFF this year!
Evan Meaney is a professor of transmedia design at the University of Tennessee. And, he is both an Ithaca College graduate and FLEFF alum. He will be returning this year due to his involvement with Null_Sets, winner of the Distributed Microtopias jury prize.
First, what is transmedia?
Meaney described transmedia as the communication of ideas through different forms. It has a lot to do with everything. It includes the science behind the work, the math in the program, and anything else that may be involved.
An interesting definition. Now, what is the big deal with Null_Sets?
He said that people are obsessed with ordered sets. Which makes sense, we like being able to understand information. But, this takes that data and converts it over to a new form (this time a jpeg image file). Now, we can look at and compare two things in a new way. Or we can simply look at the image created by a text file of Moby Dick and be intrigued with how pink is turned out.
And being familiar with the idea of FLEFF themes, Meaney has his own take on Mobilities.
Meaney was immediately reminded that there are so many systems in place to keep people from moving.
What immobilities can you think of?
Update: Profile: Amy Szczepanski written by Erica Moriarty. Stay tuned for a joint post on Null_Sets.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Blog posting written by Amber Thibault, Cinema and Photography '15, FLEFF Intern, Lewiston, Maine
What does the theme of mobilities mean to me?
That was the question that presented itself. As I was thinking about this year's theme, I started to think about FLEFF and all the hard work that goes into coordinating and funding such a globally significant event. Then I had an epiphany. FLEFF draws people from all our the world. It mobilizes people to come to Ithaca for one week, to share in the same experience, and then take that experience and spread it around the world. And our collaboration with this year's international partners, EngageMedia and Derive App, will only expand FLEFF's global influence even further.
At the same time, the international scholars and filmmakers who attend FLEFF add to the local culture of Ithaca and your own cultural exploration.
So I ask you, what cultural experience are you looking for?
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Blog posting written by Hana Raskin, Communication Management & Design '12, FLEFF intern, New York City
Tom Torello is a graduate of Ithaca College, where he majored in Television and Radio with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations. He has worked in New York City as a media planner at a big agency, for clients like Proctor & Gamble and Richardson Vicks.
He started working in higher education marketing, first as the marketing director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and later serving as Ithaca College’s first executive director of marketing communications. While at IC, he was also the marketing director for FLEFF.
Torello later assumed the position of Vice President for University Relations at Pace University in New York City. But now he is back in Ithaca, because, well, this is where his heart is and where he wants to raise his family.
He currently sits on FLEFF’s international advisory board.
Q. How did you become involved with FLEFF?
A. I was the executive director of marketing communications at IC when the school took over FLEFF. It started as a small environmental film festival at Cornell, but the provost at IC wanted to take it over and make it an Ithaca thing, and then Patty and Tom took it on.
Patty and Tom thought it could be so much more, a great local, regional and international festival.
We met with them to think about how we were going to remarket. We developed a new logo, because before, it was what you would expect a logo for an environmental film festival to be- a tree made out of film stock. We built the logo, the look, and talked about the marketing concept.
Q. How has the festival changed since your days of working on it?
A. It has changed in that it’s become bigger. More people have come to know the festival so we get larger audiences and there's more of an international reach. Patty and Tom are so well known in their fields and are out there curating film festivals in places like India in the name of FLEFF. They bring in artists and develop connections with people all around the world. The reach of FLEFF over the past 5 or 6 years is incredible. It has become known for certain things, like the music component or particularly, the silent films with music.
Q. What do you think FLEFF does for both the Ithaca College and Ithaca communities?
A. FLEFF brings in some incredible artists and films that people generally wouldn’t have the opportunity to see if they were not in a big city or at a large festival. It also brings people here to experience Ithaca that probably would not have come here otherwise, like FLEFF fellows. They wouldn’t have experienced our little corner of the world, and so many people leave just absolutely loving it. It’s great for the community and for the college. The people in India, Mexico or Germany that FLEFF touches, return with the Ithaca name and the Ithaca ideals.
Q. What are you looking most forward to at the festival this year?
A. Parties (laughs) and the silent films and music, but I met some incredible filmmakers and artists at the parties. It’s great to go to a film and then go to a party and talk to the filmmaker directly after.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Carlos Gutiérrez met his business partner Monika Wagenberg back in 1997 when they were both students in the Cinema Studies program at NYU. At the time, Latin American cinema was not very prevalent in the United States. Carlos and Monika wanted to find a way to "promote cinema from the region, locally," and thus, Cinema Tropical was born. Now, Cinema Tropical (CT) is the leading presenter of Latin American cinema in the U.S.
I got the chance to talk to Carlos about Cinema Tropical, Latin American cinema and how it all ties in to FLEFF.
Q. How would you say that Cinema Tropical has impacted the distribution and awareness of Latin American films in the US?
A. It’s hard to assess, but I think one of the key aspects of Cinema Tropical has been creating a community of film professionals and an audience. We’ve been here for almost 11 years, really pushing hard. We can now see it’s a very different world from when we first started. There are more films getting released and more attention is paid to Latin American cinema, with many more Latin American films in the film festival circuits.
Q. What are some advantages and disadvantages of promoting “Latin American cinema” as a genre, rather than promoting by nation of origin ('Argentinian films' or ‘Mexican films’)?
A. I frankly think, as a more personal opinion, that the national cinema approach is outdated; cinema is such a trans-national endeavor. I think national cinema theory is very limited in understanding what is happening in the world.
Film is going through an amazing time right now. Cinema has enabled a lot of different art forms and social activities, like journalism, to thrive. But film theory is still shortsighted. We’re still discussing film in terms of who made it and where it was made, which is limiting.
Cinema Tropical has a more flexible way to go about it, without just focusing on the distinction between art house and commercial, but showing the potential beyond categorization. We’ve been experimenting a lot to present film in a more general way, for people to enjoy film and get closer to the film offerings from Latin America.
Q. How do you think the mission of FLEFF ties into what Cinema Tropical is trying to do?
A. FLEFF has become such an important platform locally. We are both on the same wavelength of trying to redefine and to understand cinema. The festival has opened up a more scholarly way of looking at cinema. Sometimes, academia is kept separate from practical film, but FLEFF combines the two.
Q. What aspect of FLEFF are you looking most forward to?
A. First of all, I'm thrilled to visit Ithaca, as it'll be my first time there. In regards to the festival, I particularly look forward to seeing some great film programs- it looks like a terrific lineup. I also look forward to meeting some of the special guests in person.
***Interested in Latin American cinema? Make sure to check out Marimbas from Hell (Las Marimbas del Infierno) at Cinemapolis. It's a "narrative film about marimbas, gangs, heavy metal and rock bands in Guatemala." Here's the trailer too.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Blog post written by Sarah Lockwood, Cinema & Photography '15, FLEFF Intern, Blairstown, NJ
As a FLEFF Intern for the 2012 season, I have had the pleasure of attending class weekly with two brilliant and inspiring internship coordinators - one of whom is Philip Wilde. Phil was kind enough to spend an extra ten minutes of his evening discussing his background in film, his involvement in FLEFF, and some advice for festival goers this year:
On His Journey to Video
Phil began his college career as a science major at Cornell University, here in Ithaca, NY. However, his true calling began in 1971, the year in which he first picked up a video camera, and "never looked back." Phil operates a production company with his wife - and fellow internship coordinator - Ann Michel. Together they create videos, mostly scientific in nature.
On His Involvement With FLEFF
Seven years ago Phil joined the FLEFF staff, due mostly to his good friend Dr. Patricia Zimmerman, co-director of the film festival. Also based in Ithaca, Dr. Zimmerman knew of Phil and his interest in all subjects technical theatre and video related, and asked him to join the process of running the festival.
Over the years, Phil noted that the most noticeable change in the festival is that it has become "more intellectual", a noticeable evaluation of film and the film environment.
On the Perks of FLEFF
To put it simply, the "excitement of possibilities", that "anything is possible". FLEFF is not limited by the academic world or the real world - it is a place to "make experiments", and revel in the results (in successes and mistakes).
"Go to everything you can possibly go to. Talk to everyone you can possibly talk to."
Plain and simple, a film festival is about involvement and communication. Equal interaction with all people present at a festival - interns, directors, guests, crew members, audience members - is crucial.
And most importantly - "Don't talk too much, listen."
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Blog posting written by Hana Raskin, Communication Management and Design ’12, FLEFF Intern, New York City
Welcome to my blog! This spring we will embark on a journey together, as we experience and explore all that the 2012 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival has to offer.
My name is Hana Raskin and I am a senior at Ithaca College where I study Communication Management and Design. I am originally from the East Village, a vibrant and diverse neighborhood in New York City. My neighborhood has many claims to fame: "beat generation godfather" Allen Ginsberg lived in the East Village and used it as inspiration for many of his poems, and there were also the Tompkins Square Riots in 1988, which captured the neighborhood's struggle with pervasive gentrification.
Moving to Ithaca was difficult at first; it was hard to sleep at night without fire engines and bar fights serving as the backdrop to my dreams. However, I have grown to love this town and all it has to offer. Ithaca has provided me with a strong sense of community that I never had growing up. Community would be one of the main reasons I decided to become a FLEFF intern, besides of course, my love for film.
FLEFF brings together the Ithaca College campus community with the Downtown Ithaca community and then Ithaca with the global community. FLEFF looks past the subjective borders that separate us by bringing us together in a global conversation on sustainability, immigration and other pertinent environmental and human rights issues.
We have partners and collaborations around the world. The collaboration that I am most exited for is with Cinema Tropical, which presents Latin American cinema in the United States. In New York City, Cinema Tropical organized screenings of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien, which are two of my all-time favorite films!
My love for foreign films stems from my being an adventurer with a wanderlust spirit. I have studied in Argentina and Spain and have traveled to over 15 countries. During my most recent crazy trip, I took two 24-hour bus rides to spend two days in La Paz, Mexico. No regrets.
I have told you why I identify with Fleff, now I want to know why you do. What is it about FLEFF that connects to you and to your unique story?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Blog posting written by Shea Lynch, Documentary Studies '14, FLEFF Intern, Glens Falls, New York
I hope everyone is having a great week!
I interviewed FLEFF intern and team leader Holly Kreczko about her experience with FLEFF.
Holly is a Documentary Production and Studies major at Ithaca College and has Anthropology and Outdoor Pursuits minors. She is from Endicott, NY and likes to hike, go camping, explore the Adirondacks and make movies. Her academic interests include photography, anthropology and art. Holly hopes to one day start her own independent film company for documentaries and music videos. She enjoys watching documentaries about African social rights activism.
What Holly does as a FLEFF Team Leader:
What Holly has learned:
"FLEFF is much more than just a film festival.It's an opportunity for people to come together, learn about a topic, and discuss it afterwards.
Going into this, I thought the festival would just be about directors making movies and presenting them, but I soon learned that it's all about activism." -Holly Kreczko
Question of the Blog to our Loyal Readers: What is your favorite Film Festival?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Blog posting written by Matthew Reis, Cinema and Photography, '13, FLEFF Intern
Hello FLEFF sponsors, participants and guests. My name is Matthew R. Reis. I want to welcome you to the “Intern Voices” blog.
So, a little bit about me: I am a sophomore Cinema & Photography major with a minor in Art History. I write for “The Ithacan,” Ithaca College’s award winning newspaper. I specialize in reviewing films, art installations, and previewing upcoming plays. I also am involved with Ithaca College Television and the Art History Society here on campus. When I am not working with groups on campus, I enjoy promoting media literacy, following current events, reading, and playing video games on campus.
Getting off campus is even better.
There are some things I really enjoy doing in town. I love going to the movies. Ithaca has a large amount of movie theaters existing in a relatively small area. Cinemapolis the home of FLEFF, Cornell Cinema and Regal Cinemas are all great places to go and enjoy film.
Here are a few more things I like about Ithaca: its acceptance of alternative lifestyles, the wealth of community owned businesses, and an vibrant, engaging art scene.
So why did I want to work with FLEFF?
I find that all forms of media have the potential to be more than just commodities a person rents or buys. Media is transformative and can bring small issues to the forefront of today’s complex world.
So the simple answer is this: I became an intern to prove that media can change lives. Additionally, being a part of FLEFF is an exciting experience. So many people from all walks of life, in places all around the world, are effected by what takes place at FLEFF.
I am honored and proud to be a small part of this festival's continued growth and success.
When I applied to be a FLEFF intern, I had two goals: to learn more about the nuts-and-bolts of the film industry and to network.
I met both of these goals in just over a month--and discovered new goals to strive for.
The vast array of networking opportunities available to interns is another substantial perk of FLEFF. So far, I have met and talked to a variety of artists, including documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles and emerging media artist/college professor Evan Meaney, a 2007 IC graduate.
Plus: I enjoy collaborating with my fellow interns and working together towards a much better future.
Ithaca and the greater Central New York region are lucky to have a plethora of artists, activists, and hard working people contributing FLEFF. Without these people, FLEFF would have a decidedly weaker foundation. And, my college experience would be much less fulfilling.
Along with fellow interns, I have already helped with FLEFF’s ad campaign. On February 6, 2011, also known as Super Bowl Sunday, we held our first event. We managed to sell out a screening of Gimme Shelter. Mr. Maysles, one of the directors of the film, was on hand to answer any questions the audience had about his 41-year-old classic. Hopefully, this strong start will carry over into FLEFF week.
It only takes one person to go to a festival and come away with a variety of new ideas, opinions, and stories to share.
So why not come out to Ithaca, New York in April and experience FLEEF, a different environment for yourself?
Just be sure to dress warmly.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Blog post written by Kelsey Green, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York
I grew up an hour outside of Buffalo, NY, but currently, I reside in Ithaca, New York, where I am a sophomore enrolled in Documentary Studies and Production at Ithaca College.
I am from a rural area and therefore enjoy many activities outdoors such as horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking. Ithaca is a great place to pursue my studies because there are so many natural areas to explore nearby.
On campus, I am engaged in several ways. I am a resident assistant for the first year living community on campus. And, I'm also a dean’s host for the Roy H. Park School of Communications.
When I am not on duty in the residential halls or giving tours of the Park School, the multimedia section of The Ithacan keeps me busy. I am regularly creating short videos and slideshows for the online section of the paper. On weekends, I get a thrill out of filming Cornell hockey games for the ICTV show Big Red Faceoff.
Education is very important to me. I do what I can to help youth, because I believe they are our future. Once a week, I go to the Ithaca High School to tutor local students. I also work through a program on campus to talk with visiting ninth graders about my college experiences. I hope to become a film producer after I finish my degree, but I am also interested in becoming a professor.
Why am I interested in documentaries and new media? Because I am amazed at the power they have in raising awareness and prompting social change. The engagement involved not only by the creators, but also by the audience, fascinates me. So, that's why I am excited to become more immersed in the media world through FLEFF. The opportunity to see so many different forms of art and to meet so many different leading artists is incredible!
What are you looking forward to in the 2011 edition of FLEFF? Are there certain artists you’re particularly excited to hear speak?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I'm Gena (pronounced like "Jenna") Mangiaratti, I'm a sophomore Journalism major with a minor in Anthropology. I'm from right outside of Springfield, Massachusetts.
In a little more than a year and a half at Ithaca, I feel like I have learned more about the world outside of my surroundings than in all the time leading up to it. As a journalist, I'm drawn to writing articles that spread awareness of human rights abuses or that bring understanding to differing sides of a conflict. One of my main commitments at Ithaca is being a staff writer for Buzzsaw Magazine, a student-run alternative literary magazine that focuses on politics and social justice.
I was drawn to FLEFF because I wanted to learn more about film as a vehicle for educating others. I am also very interested in learning about the inspirations behind creative people. So far as a FLEFF intern I have had the opportunity to watch a screening of "Gimme Shelter," after which director Alfred Maysles gave an engaging and informative question and answer session.
I look very much forward to interviewing FLEFF guests so I can provide readers with Q&A's and profiles.
What would you most like to find out about FLEFF filmmakers?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon
Hello FLEFF following world! Welcome to our FLEFF blog! To start things off, my name is Lindsay Harrop. I am currently a sophomore Cinema & Photography major at Ithaca College with a concentration in Screenwriting and a Politics minor.
I grew up in beautiful McMinnville, Oregon and came to Ithaca for the Park School of Communications. A bonus of living here is that - and this might be hard to believe - I love the cold! It only rains at home so I have a lot of fun with the snow and sub-freezing temperatures.
On campus I am a Leadership Scholar, Resident Assistant, Vice-President of the Writing for Production Association in Park and a delegate of the Ithaca College Model United Nations Team.
Beyond the cocurricular sphere, I love to travel both internationally and around the US. Some of my favorite places are Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica and the National Mall at midnight in Washington DC. A few other things I enjoy are white water kayaking, Pacific Northwest coffee, talking politics and, of course, watching movies.
I was first attracted to FLEFF because it represents a fusion of my two central passions - film and politics. Something I love about movies is that they are capable of transcending cultures in a way few other mediums can. A movie could be about Thai farmers, shot by a French film crew, financed by a British company and then screened in America while simultaneously evolving and remaining consistent for each group involved.
Moreover, movies are unique for their ability to encapsulate human experiences as they occur while capturing the deeper emotional tones that are lost in a news broadcast or quick TV snippet.
As an individual filmmaker and member of the FLEFF team, my goal is to do just that – drawing the audience’s eyes to the corners of the world that are most often overlooked and encouraging people to think critically about their place in the global community.
We've already had our first FLEFF event of 2011 with the spectacular Albert Maysles sharing his innovative features Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens and Salesman with the Ithaca community. His visit kicked off some great discussions here and I’m really looking forward to all the other upcoming events. What FLEFF moments are you excited for?