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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
In Scavenger Hunt, director Matthew Podolsky explores the efforts of biologists in the remote northern Arizona to re-introduce the highly endangered California condor. Through these efforts a much larger problem is revealed: the toxicity of lead based bullets and ammunition. Ammunition incorporates lead because it allows for the bullet to fragment, better killing the animal rather than it simply being wounded and dying in the woods—thus losing the meat. No waste, what’s the big deal? Well lead is also toxic. When condors eat the animal remains, they also eat the lead fragments, which poisons them.
With the film’s world premier, Podolsky is pleased to be at FLEFF because of its uniqueness in comparison to other film festivals. Other film festivals focus on wildlife or animal behavior films with a more traditional approach, shying away from films that focus on conservation issues. However, it is these conservation issues, like that of the condors, that are most controversial and where education is needed the most.
“I think the focus on community involvement and the relationship between human communities and communities in nature is a really important focus that is pretty unique to the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival,” Poldolsky said.
Poldolsky also believes this film truly epitomizes this year’s theme of microtopias.
“You can get bogged down by trying to deal with the bigger picture,” Podolsky said. “But if you try to focus on smaller communities then it is easier to come up with realistic solutions to that issue. And that fits perfectly with what we are trying to do with this film.”
The film is all about the sparked conversation about this highly polarized national issue being addressed on a local level. I’m not going to give away too much about California condors’ commitment to action for the condors (you NEED to go see this film because this organization’s work is truly amazing), but here is just a little preview. Podolsky has been involved with the California condor program since 2005. A lot has happened since then. He said at this point every hunter who hunts up in that area knows about the issue; they know about the condors; they know about lead bullet fragementation. And close to 90 percent of hunters who hunt in that region use nonleaded ammunition voluntarily.
“I think that (the percentages) shows that it’s possible,” Podolsky said. “I think it shows that hunters do have that conservation ethic and that when you explain the issue to them, 90 percent of them are willing to make a small change, pay a little bit more for ammunition and stop polluting wildlife.”
Podolsky himself is an Ithaca College alumnus, with a double major in Cinema/Photography and Environmental Studies. He grew up in Wellesley, MA. After graduation, Podolsky focused more on wildlife biology with a field job in upstate NY with retired IC professor Dr. John Confer—and it was Confer who got him the job with California Condors in Arizona.
So check out Scavenger Hunt and meet Matt Podolsky after the film’s world premier! Where else can you partake in something this big for less than 10 dollars? As per usual, I am always amazed by the magic of FLEFF and the greatness of the types of people that come together in the name of film, art, environmental advocacy and good conversation.
Were you aware of this environmental issue with condors before now? What do you think about it?
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Blog post written by Colleen Ryan, Television-Radio '12, Anthropology minor, Lansing, NY
The list of amazing guests keeps growing and growing, and by golly I don't think there's anything about FLEFF that I'm NOT excited for.
Here are five guests I'm most looking forward to:
1. Elizabeth Coffman. She's many things that I aspire to be: Documentary filmmaker. Writer. Teacher. Mom. If you haven't checked out her writing on the Inside Higher Ed, "Mama, PhD" you should! It's great! I've been reading it all morning. Coffman is also the co-producer of Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about the disappearing coastline of Louisiana, a film I'm dying to see and that will be screened the last day of FLEFF (April 1st).
2. Menna Khalil. Suffering in the Middle East is something I know little about, and I wish I knew more. Khalil's activism and work sounds extremely inspiring, and I can't wait to see her presentation that documents Iraq Burin and stories of Palestinian village who were witnesses to uprising. To read more about her work, check out fellow blogger Brian McCormick's interview.
3. Matthew Podolsky. His non-profit organization "Wild Lens" incorporates all my passions into one: Activism. Science. Conservation. Art. Wild Lens wishes to "present biological facts in an exciting and accessible way, and broaden the public interest in environmental and wildlife conservation – one species at a time." It's pretty safe to say my dream job may be exactly that -- word for word.
4. Robby Aceto and the Cloud Chamber Orchestra. As I said in a previous post about Aceto and his improvisational music trio, I can't wait for the Cloud Chamber Orchestra's live scoring of "Nanook of the North." It will be my first experience of any kind of live music played with film. I love music, but I don't believe my brain has the ability to fathom performing live with a film, while also improvising and collaborating with two other musicians. To an audience it must seem so effortless, but holy cow the talent one must have!
5. Bernie Upson and his Quartet. I'm a wannabe jazz fanatic. Whenever I listen to jazz, I feel as if I was born in the wrong decade. I picture myself dolled-up in a smokey mid-century jazz lounge, with the bass vibrating through my veins. I'm thrilled to see such a talented group of musicians play. It's not everyday you're in the presence of jazz legends!
19 days until FLEFF. Ready. Set. Get excited. I know I am. Are you?
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Blog posting written by Isabel Galupo, Cinema and Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Towson, MD
FLEFF Week 2012 is coming up fast, and the list of this year's festival guests is up on our website!
While every FLEFF guest brings something dynamic to the table, here are five guests that I am especially looking forward to meeting and learning from!
1. Cynthia Henderson: An Ithaca College Theatre Arts professor. Cynthia Henderson has countless acting and directing credits in the United States, Europe, and Africa. As I am pretty unfamiliar with theatre, I am hoping that Professor Henderson will shed some light on the intersections between live performance and social change and the ways in which live performance and film interact with and contradict each other. I am also extremely interested in her work on "A Wrinkle in Time" at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as that is one of my absolute favorite books!
2. Chris White: As a cellist who actively performs both classical AND non-classical music, Chris White straddles the line of tradition versus innovation. White seems, to me, to epitomize the purpose of FLEFF; to make sense of (false) binaries and create new meanings out of tension and polarity. As the founder and director of New Directions Cello Association & Festival, I am sure that he has a lot of great insights about how to create a hub for like-minded artists and intellectuals to learn and grow together.
3. Matthew Podolsky: A graduate of Ithaca College with a double major in Cinema and Photography and Environmental Science, Matthew Podolsky helps run the non-profit organization Wild Lens. Podolsky's very obvious interests in documentary production and the environment speak directly to FLEFF's mission, and I am excited to hear about his experiences as an IC alum.
4. Toivo: From Trumansburg, NY, Toivo is a six-piece band that boasts of a hodgepodge of musical influences, such as Finnish and Tex-Mex, suited for dance traditions from all over the world-- waltzes, tangoes, polanise, two-steps, and many, many more! Much like Drs. Brad Hougham and Debbie Martin in their presentation about "The Concert for Microtopias," Toivo seems to embody the very "FLEFF-y" idea of creating meaning from conflicting musical forces. I am very excited for their performance, as I don't think that I have ever heard traditional Finnish music before!
5. Laura Kissel: A documentary filmmaker and Director of Film and Media Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her short biography on the FLEFF website already had me asking questions; I am excited to learn about her use of "orphan films" in her critical media work. As Kissel is heavily involved in academia, I hope that she will be able to provide faculty, students, and other FLEFF attendees advice on how to balance institutional demands with creative needs.
Which artists are you most excited to see during FLEFF week 2012?