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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kimberly Capehart at 10:32PM
The Film Festival Reader, by Dina Iordanova

Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey 

As a third-time FLEFF Blogger, I have obviously learned a lot about film festivals since my first time navigating the festival world. 

However, with each passing year in which I read about and experience the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival and other film festivals, my understanding of their operations, their inner workings, as well as my understanding of their strategies of engagement, is challenged and broadened. 

The FLEFF blogging team has been doing quite a bit of reading on the operations as well as the politics of various international film festivals and how they operate within the historical, social, and geopolitical contexts of the world. Namely, we have been engaging with the following texts: Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia by Marijke de Valck and The Film Festival Reader, a collection of essays edited by Dina Iordanova. 

The following are 5 ways in which I'm thinking differently about film festivals by challenging and broadening my ever-growing understandings and expectations.

1. Film festivals as participants in global political discussions 

In Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia, DeValck emphasizes "the politics of participation." By programming and showcasing films surrounding a certain political agenda or theme, film festivals actively participate in bigger political discussions all around the world. Consequently, film festival attendees and participants also engage in unique participatory dialogues! 

2. By participating in a global dialogue, film festivals infuse local understandings with global meanings

Film festivals have the unique capability of bringing exclusive films to various places and opening up a space in which a diverse number of people have access to the film and its surrounding conversations. However, the film festival environment also brings the local understandings, conversations, and questions of a particular place into a more global context. 

3. Film festivals occupy sites as global nodes of engagement 

While commercial multiplexes occupy nearly every city and maintain record-breaking figures with each new release. film festivals contribute to the global image market in a different way. In an essay titled "Global Image Consumption in the age of Late Capitalism," author Bill Nichols writes "[Film festivals] sustain a 'traffic in cinema' that is fully part of a larger economy, aesthetics, and politics." 

Festivals function as sites of engagement in which all participants help to shape viewing practices, tastes, and discussions in the worldwide cinema market

4. However, film festivals are not "anti-Hollywood" 

Though film festivals operate within and simultaneously construct a market and a network that is significantly less commercial than that of the American Hollywood system, film festivals do not battle with commercial cinema. Rather, the two are in constant dialogue and conversation: ever-changing and relying on the other in various aspects. 

5. Festival guests, attendees, and participants are truly what define the festival 

If we understand film festivals to be collaboratively constructed entities, then we must not discount the role of the participants in their construction! The conversations surrounding films, musical performances, new media exhibits, and other festival events are what constitutes the true richness of the festival. 

These five new ways in which to think about film festivals have already profoundly shaped my understanding and expectations of the 18th annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. I am thinking more globally about the role and function of film festivals, especially FLEFF, and I have definitely reconsidered my role as both a blogger and as a FLEFF participant.

How do these insights change the way you think about film festivals? 

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