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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Blog post written by Elma Gonzalez '14, FLEFF Blogger, Journalism, San Diego, CA.
The office is not very large. Its white walls serve as a frame to a plethora of posters, which urge students to participate in events discussing race and ethnicity. A colorful map of the world serves as the focal point of the room. It hangs above an L shaped desk with a computer monitor that is still on from earlier use. Several large stacks of paper shield the desk almost entirely, and a stapler and a spray bottle with blue liquid seize the last free inches. It is all an organized jumble of work.
In this office, sheltered inside a larger office for international programs, sits the most influential person of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival — and perhaps the one of the busiest women at Ithaca College —, Dr. Tanya Saunders, assistant provost and dean of international studies and special projects.
FLEFF was assigned to Dr. Saunders after the festival moved from Cornell University to Ithaca College 10 years ago. This week, I sat down with her to talk about her involvement with FLEFF and her expectations for its 10th anniversary.
EG: How did you become involved with FLEFF?
TS: I became assistant provost some years ago, and the provost at the time introduced the notion of sustainability to Ithaca College.
Cornell [University] wasn’t certain that it could continue to support FLEFF ... it was just a fortuitous circumstance that the provost at the time said, ‘Well, FLEFF is in keeping with [the] new area of interest that we’ve identified for Ithaca College. And so he asked Dr. [Patricia] Zimmermann and Dr. [Thomas] Shevory if they would take on the leadership of this project, and when I became dean of interdisciplinary and international studies, it was just a perfect fit because my idea for FLEFF was that it become a larger opportunity. We wanted FLEFF not to be just about the environment in the strict sense of that term, but to help us understand the environment in the larger context of sustainability. In other words, we cannot talk about the environment as if people weren’t living in that environment or as if businesses weren’t acting in that environment.
EG: What does FLEFF represent to you?
TS: It represents to me the opportunity for all of us faculty, staff, students, and members of the local community or the public to come together and to talk about ideas.
I think it allows us to come out of our schools, come out of our disciplines, to come out of our majors and recognize that [there are issues] we all share regardless of our disciplinary perspectives, and so then we can have an honest conversation.
EG: What is your favorite part of FLEFF?
TS: I love the concert. I like the opening concert because each year it’s different, and each year I’m surprised, so I am looking forward to what the concert will be this year. It sort of sets the tone for the remainder of the festival.
EG: Why should students attend the festival?
TS: Because they are going to be entering a world that is larger than themselves, larger than their immediate goals of ‘I want this GPA’ or ‘I want to succeed in a particular major’ or ‘I want to secure that first job’. Regardless of what their immediate goals are, all of them are going to become a part of the international or global conversation about how do we help our planet to survive in a way that allows us to survive as a species if you will, but to also have a quality of life that allows meaning.
FLEFF is fun as well. I am talking about it in serious terms, but we come out talking and smiling and engaging so I don’t want students to miss that either.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog post written by Haley Stearns, Film, Photography & Visual Arts ’15, FLEFF Blogger
Dr. Dale Hudson works as a digital curator for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. This year marks his seventh year participating in FLEFF. His Dr. Hudson is currently living and teaching at New York University Abu Dhabi. Check out the following interview to learn more about FLEFF’s fantastic digital curator!
Where are you from originally?
I think that anyone who has moved often will understand why this question is very difficult to answer. I have lived places that have changed so much that they are no longer recognizable. They have become invisible cities, so to speak. For the past fifteen years, I've lived mostly in Amherst (Massachusetts) and Abu Dhabi, but I still go to my dentist in midtown Manhattan.
How is your experience living and teaching in Abu Dhabi?
I feel very lucky to live in Abu Dhabi. It's inspiring to hear people speak English, Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Tagalog, Malayalam, Tamil, Amharic, Chinese, and other languages every day on the streets. Every taxi driver is fluent in multiple languages plus speaks enough Arabic and English to communicate with customers. There is a really active arts scene in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai, as well as in Doha (Qatar), so there are always film festivals, plays, arts exhibition, and concerts.
When did you begin working with FLEFF?
I started working with FLEFF in 2004 when I was teaching at Ithaca College. Lisa Patti and I curated a performance of live music with archival film in 2006, and Sharon Lin Tay and I co-curated our first digital exhibition in 2007. This year's exhibit will be my seventh for FLEFF.
What originally attracted you to FLEFF?
I have loved FLEFF ever since it has moved to Ithaca College. The co-directors Tom Shevory and Patty Zimmermann have brought the idea of an environmental film festival into the twenty-first century by looking at the environment from more holistic and global perspectives, especially through the variety of events, fellowships for graduate students, workshops for undergraduate students, and dialogues with festivals in Bangalore, Jakarta, and elsewhere.
Can you explain the intricacies of your job as a digital curator for FLEFF?
As digital curators, our work is to locate artists, particularly ones whose work might not be as well known by programmers. In addition to finding artists through word-of-mouth, we publish open calls for submissions through various arts and media organizations around the world. We've been thrilled to receive submission to our open calls from artists at SARAI in Delhi and by the duo JODI, among others.
How do you feel about this year’s theme: dissonance?
I like the theme, which seems to resonate with ways that people have transformed dissatisfaction into something productive.
What are some of your interests outside of FLEFF?
I've always been incredibly interested in thinking about what gets left out of conventional stories. For example, histories of film used to focus on work from Hollywood, a few countries in Europe, and a few token Japanese and Bengali filmmakers. Most of the world was overlooked, including places like Brazil, Egypt, and México. I'm also very interested in what happens to people and to films when they cross borders.