About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
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!
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?
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."
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Blog posting written by Kacey Deamer, Journalism and Environmental Studies '13, FLEFF Intern, Binghamton, NY
Some people hate to talk about themselves. I'm not one of those people. I'll tell you just about anything you want to know about me. More than anything, though, I love to talk about the environment. That's probably why I am a double major in journalism and environmental studies. It is my job to write and talk about the environment, ranging from the science of climate change to eco-friendly lifestyle changes.
Working with FLEFF is a perfect combination of these passions. I get to promote an incredible, interdisciplinary environmental film festival through blogging! Through this platform I'll share with you the inner-workings of a festival: profiles, reviews, top 5 lists and many other musings. Think of this as a special preview, brought to you by students who care.
As a student who cares and who will be sharing stories on this blog, I thought I'd tell you some more about myself (since I do, in fact, love to talk about myself). I grew up in the suburbs of Binghamton, NY, which is not too inspiring in the environmental department. Despite that, I always had a consciousness of the planet and its well-being. Attending Ithaca College was an easy choice given the sustainability efforts of the campus and the perfect combination of majors.
My time on campus has been spent doing just about everything. On the journalist side: I'm an editor for Buzzsaw Magazine, the environment/sustainability beat reporter for The Ithacan, a member of SPJ and SEJ, and developing a personal blog. On the environmental side: I help maintain the student-run organic garden, am a member of the environmental society and Slow Food chapter.
I'm here, as an intern and a blogger and an insatiable academic, to broaden my understanding of the festival world and to find new avenues to share environmental messages. Why are you here?
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Class of 2014, Journalism
Minors in politics and environmental studies
Fun Facts About Me:
1. I am a Boston girl.
2. I have a twin sister, who also goes to Ithaca College.
3. I am addicted to caffeine.
4. My favorite color is yellow.
5. I have Bieber fever, and I am not afraid to show it!
Don’t laugh. I am 100 percent serious when I say that Leonardo DiCaprio helped me discover my passion for environmental activism. My ridiculous love for DiCaprio began with the release of the movie Titanic. While casually stalking him/scrolling through his website, I stumbled upon his eco-link. I was enlightened. I was shocked. I was hooked.
Since then, I have become dedicated to environmental advocacy and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles through my love of journalism (check out my blog from the Ithacan!). I am President of Ithaca College’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. I am also Co-Editor for the upfront section of Buzzsaw Magazine. I love to talk and meet new people, but even more so I love to write. Sometimes, I have a hard time articulating exactly what I am feeling, but through my writing I am able to take the time to say exactly what I want to say, how I want to say it. And trust me, I have a lot to say. Words are beautiful. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and now it is time for me to look for beauty elsewhere.
I am so pleased to be working with FLEFF so I can explore a medium of journalism outside of my comfort zone, while still advocating for something I love: the planet. I am captivated by this art form that uses visuals to stir action, and I can’t wait to learn more. But even more so, I am thrilled to be a part of the community created around this festival. Which is what the theme of microtopias is all about: building an ideal community on a local level to explore the world without constraints. We create boundaries and limits for ourselves all of the time. My resolution at the beginning of this New Year was to live my life by the words of Neale Donald Walsch who said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I believe this statement is true for the environmental movement as well. By breaking through these zones we create for ourselves, only then can we challenge existing systems, mindsets, boundaries and limits.
So here is what I want to know from you: other than participating in FLEFF 2012, what will you be doing to advocate for the environment in your own daily life? What will you do to break out of your comfort zone? How will you work to make your own utopia a reality rather than an ideal?
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Blog post written by Evan Johnson, Journalism, Environmental Studies, German Language Studies ‘13, FLEFF Intern, Marlboro, VT
Danny Schecter is a journalist and independent film producer. He is the winner of multiple awards including the Society of Professional Journalists' 2001 Award for Excellence in Documentary Journalism. His film, Plunder: The Crime of Our Time will be shown at FLEFF on April 16 at 2 pm at Cinemapolis. Mr. Schecter and I spoke recently about his film, the recent financial crisis and the responsibilities of journalists.
Evan Johnson: What originally drew you to the theme of your movie, Plunder?
Danny Schecter: In 2005 I began thinking about what kind I could do that would bring people together and about the shared problems in our country that transcend partisan politics. I focused on the issue debt. So many people are in debt; students, people with mortgages and credit cards. So I made a film called In Debt We Trust and that film warned of the financial crisis. That came out in 2006 and the reaction was ‘you’re an alarmist. How can you say the economy is going to crash when everything is going so well?’ And the six months later the market began to melt down. I went from a zero to a hero. I wasn’t the only one who saw these problems coming by any means but the people who did see them coming were ignored. We’ve moved from warning of a crisis to an actual crisis. And as that crisis developed they saw the same patterns. No one was asking any deeper questions and that led me to stop looking at the problem as a business problem and start looking at it as a crime problem. I believe this is the most serious problem because it’s the economic security of the entire planet.
EJ: As a lone journalist or investigative reporter, how do you confront an issue as large as white-collar crime or chronic debt?
DS: You have to find who’s going to be willing to talk to you and a lot of people. I couldn’t get the FBI to talk to me because they did. I also wanted to talk to insiders, not just critics, professors of economics, radicals the like. I wanted to talk to people who were actually in the industry and I actually did find some. I talked to a convicted white-collar criminal. I talked to financial journalists, people who worked at Bear Stearns or Goldman Sachs and they basically confirmed or gave more details on all of this. I tried to tell this story about the financial crisis through the prism of crime and that’s what makes the film unique and different. But it’s not a view that’s accepted.
EJ: When confronting something so enormous and convoluted, how do you explain it to a lay audience? How do you simplify the crisis in the film?
DS: Look at the film and you’ll see how I did it. I try and break it down and I’ve also written a companion book called The Crime of Our Time to further detail and document my findings. I’m an investigative reporter. What I wanted to try and say who is behind this and what is the nature of our economy. We have a “F.I.R.E.” economy. This means it is made of three principle institutions. The “F” is for financing companies, the “I” is for insurance companies and “R.E.” is for real estate. What we found is that these three industries were working together at a profit to get people to take on more debt than they could afford. I’m fighting a battle not just to find out the facts, but also to communicate the facts.
EJ: If this system is ripping off so many people, what actions should consumers take to protect themselves?
DS: The first action an individual can take is to educate themselves and understand what actually happened. And you can’t go rely on the mainstream media for that – you’ve got to try to investigate it yourself. Ask deeper questions Read books like mine, seeing films like mine and other films. Inside Job, another film on this, won the academy award for documentary. It doesn’t go as far as my film goes, but it’s a good start in understanding the financial crisis. We live in a country where there is very little financial literacy. Most people are scared of money and don’t know much about it. The main thing is to press the government to put these [criminals] to jail. WE have to prosecute them and not let them get away with it. We don’t need a bail-out – we need a jail-out.
EJ: What are some changes that journalists need to make in their coverage of the financial crisis?
DS: There used to be what were called labor reporters who reported on working people. But as the unions lost power, a lot of these people became business reporters. They went to business school and they identified with the people who were running these companies. They’re weren’t skeptical and they weren’t asking hard questions. But that’s the goal of a reporter – find the truth. You’re not a stenographer - you’re a journalist.
EJ: What advice do you have for aspiring journalists or students who want to pursue a career in investigative reporting?
DS: There are lots of different filmmakers. You can make YouTube videos and watch your cat jump through hoops but if you’re really interested in more serious issues, what I would recommend would be to find a mentor - filmmaker, an educator or someone who you can work with and learn by doing. I’ve had interns from Ithaca College and they all come away feeling like they’ve learned a lot.
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?