About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Blogging Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
I joined the FLEFF blogging team not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to learn and I wanted to write about it. My job is a blogger. I am a number; part of a group that is part of a larger group. We are the festival team.
The theme is dissonance. It's all we've been talking about for weeks. Every time I interview someone, I ask, “What does dissonance mean to you?” because every person has a different answer.
I have learned that festivals are a place for thought, discussion, and ideas to mass together in the same pot. I am excited for this. I think FLEFF is fascinating and every person who I have talked to has been completely different. It's a giant pot of soup with ingredients and flavors that somehow meld together to create an unexpectedly pleasant, bold, and unforgettable flavor. By result of some happy circumstance, I have been able to talk with people who offered an insight on something that directly correlated with my life: a concept I learned in class the day before that made me question my opinions, an idea I was on the fence about, or perhaps something that has been floating in the gray matter of my brain for awhile now.
I was given the privilege to speak with Karen Rodriguez, Upstate Filmmakers Showcase Curator, who talked with me about her experiences in the Pacific Northwest and experimental film. Hearing her story was the encouragement I needed to solidify my desire to move to Seattle and pursue what life has to offer me there. My blogging team also had the pleasure of Skyping with Leila Nadir, co-founder of ecoarttech (and her dogs!). Leila talked with us about the environment, nature, and her work. For that whole week, I had been subject to discussion along similar veins, focusing mainly on the National Parks, in my Environmental Anthropology class. I had been visibly struggling as these ideas threatened to irrevocably destroy everything that was important to me in my life before I questioned these topics. Without even realizing it, Leila put my mind at ease and helped me to see, as she put it, that nature “exists, but it's constructed.”
Dissonance. Throwing a wrench into the mix. I experience this every day. Although a contributor to opening my mind, thus far FLEFF has also been a way for me to calm the dissonances in my life and in that way fully grasp the lessons the world is trying to teach me. These two examples embody the feelings I have been experiencing as a blogger for FLEFF the past couple months. I am a little tentative— but mostly excited— for the festival week, when every day will be these experiences one after another. I am open and ready to question the world.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
Ms. Karen Rodriguez, the curator for the Upstate Filmmaker's Showcase screening, has worked with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival for three years. Over the phone, she discussed her involvement with FLEFF, curating processes, and film background.
Describe your role as a curator for FLEFF.
I've been putting together the Upstate Short screening for the last two years, finding local Ithaca and upstate NY filmmakers who are doing interesting work to showcase during FLEFF. I contact them, preview their work, and put it together. This year I'm also putting together a screening of work from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Last semester I read an article about curating and I thought it was interesting to read about the “in between space” that occurs when screening films. Can you talk about what your curating process is?
Sometimes there will be pieces that have compositional strategies that resonate, so I'll put those in sequence. Sometimes I make more content driven or thematic decisions. And since a lot of the work is experimental and some of the films are formally challenging so I think about how to place those so that the audience gets the most out of the experience. I usually try to start the show with something that I think that is really, really strong and end it with something that is even stronger, so people go out with a bang.
Are you the one who decides what order the films will be screened and when, or are you the one who seeks out the films themselves?
I'm actually doing both, so I'm seeking out works that are new, or new to the audience and then I'm also putting it together into a flow so the films compliment one another.
Can you tell me about your personal experience with film? Did you study film as an undergraduate student?
I studied film at Boston University when I was in undergrad. While there, I studied American Independent filmmakers like John Cassavetes, Elaine May, Rick Schmidt, and Mark Rappaport. After undergrad, I got my first paid job working on one of Rick Schmidt's films and then started to work in the film industry as a lighting and camera technician in Seattle. While I worked on commercial films for a living, I also attended screenings of independent and experimental work at 911 Media Arts Center and later the Northwest Film Forum. I was interested in filmmaking from a do- it- yourself/ punk- rock perspective which eventually led me to graduate school at the University of Iowa where there was a strong emphasis on experimental and personal documentary. The work I produced there, and since, has screened in independent film festivals across North America and in Europe. After graduating with my MFA, I started teaching film.
How was your teaching experience?
I taught at Emerson College for a few years and then I taught at Ithaca College. It was a real privilege to work with students who are passionate about film and who are trying to find their voices in a technically challenging medium.
What are you doing now?
Last year, I started working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the Multimedia Department which produces films on natural history and conservation.
What does this year's FLEF theme: Dissonance mean to you?
Dissonance is an exciting theme for this year. Independent media is an interesting form of cultural dissonance providing a counterpoint to mainstream media. FLEFF is a great venue for bringing that kind of counterpoint to Ithaca. It allows people to see different points of views and see films that you aren't going to get to see elsewhere.
What are you most looking forward to about FLEFF this year?
I'm looking forward to a week of really exciting films, musical events and terrific speakers.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Blog posting written by Abby Sophir, Television/Radio '14, FLEFF Intern, St. Louis, Missouri.
When the day winds down and theaters close during FLEFF week, the fun is not over. In fact, according to London McDaniel, it has just begun.
McDaniel, Promoter and Music Manager for Delilah’s on Cayuga, has arranged for several after parties to take place at the venue.
“I thought that it was a perfect, perfect combination,” McDaniel said. “One of the things about FLEFF which is fantastic is the quality of content. All I want to know is about content. But unfortunately, because I lived in Los Angeles for so long, I have a sense of flash as well. I’m about content but I’m very familiar with flare.”
He says content and pizzaz are both essential to a successful film festival. He hopes to bring the two together.
“It doesn’t matter how much you want to be earthy and how much you want to be grounded, the reality is all the film festivals that are having high revenue turnover are having it because they have great quality but they also have a lot of media attention. They are the place to be-- people want to come there, they want to party there, they plan their years around it.”
Not only does McDaniel work for Delilah’s, he is a lifelong musician himself. He got involved with Delilah’s (known as the Wild Fire at the time) as a performer and later took over as programmer. He says his job is to bring the community music he knows they are going to love.
“Delilah's has a very comfortable environment and low-key atmosphere,” he said, “and at the same time there’s a distinctive aspect about it. Like if you are in Manhattan and you go to the Knitting Factory or the Blue Note or the Sweet Basil. These types of clubs have a specific atmosphere which are very conducive to being really entertained.”
He argues that there is no place like Delilah’s in Ithaca.
“It’s different from any other venue because there’s no other venue in town where it’s high, high quality entertainment, a fantastic restaurant and a wonderful place to see the music,” he said. “Every other place to see music in this town, other than The Haunt, is a bar.”
He studied music at a conservatory in his hometown of Seattle, Washington before completing his studies at the Berkeley College of Music. He has taught in the Music Department at Cornell and performed around the world.
“I play a number of instruments. I play kettle steel guitar, steel guitar, banjo, and upright base. I play a lot of guitar. And I play many different styles-- jazz, bluegrass.”
McDaniel also does production work and has written music for hip hop artists that have “gone platinum.” One of his pieces was picked up by the very popular P-Diddy.
However, he has found that music is becoming antiquated-- a throwback to another time. Through his work, he aims to bring live music back into peoples lives.
“Sometimes in the pursuit of technology and progress we lose the beauty and the simplicity of what moves our souls,” McDaniel said.
Although details of the FLEFF after parties remain a secret, he reveals that each night will feature a different theme, several artists performing, and a DJ to end the night. He guarantees a variety of music and a good time.
“It’s not a question of why should they come to the after parties, it’s a question of it’s going to be the most happening thing in town,” he said. “If you don’t want to be there-- you want to be a lump on a log-- you’re welcome to do that. I’m not trying to get in the way of anybody and their movie night on the couch. If you want to do something with your life and experience live entertainment, that’s what’s going to be happening at Delilah’s club.”
Keep an eye out for more information about the FLEFF after parties at Delilah’s!