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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Posted by Caroline Bissaillon, Documentary Studies and Production '21, minors in Art and Environmental Studies, Great Barrington, MA
It snows in upstate New York. Every once in a while, a storm blows in and it snows so much that we run out of places to pile it up. This morning I poured luke-warm water on my car to crack the shard of ice locking me from getting inside.
My neighbor gave me a shovel to dig out my vehicle from the snowbank. On the way to work, I passed people shoveling ice and snow out of driveways.
Snow falls bring a sense of community here. We have to band together and battle the weather armed with salt, boots, and shovels. Small talk is conducted around the weather, the road conditions, and the inch of ice on windshields.
Winter months are a time of hibernation in Ithaca. It is too cold to venture outside, even college students don’t go out on weekends as much. Towards the end of February cabin fever urges people to get outside, but winter stretches on until the equinox in April.
For the locals, FLEFF comes around at the perfect time of year. It is a much-needed excuse to come together, socialize, and change up routines.
Weather is a big factor for film festivals. Bad weather is good, people want to stay indoors and watch movies. Good weather is bad, people will want to venture outside desperate for a dose of vitamin D.
Luckily, FLEFF is in mid-March when the climate in the Finger Lakes region is slushy, muddy, and uninviting.
FLEFF transforms Cinemapolis into a meeting place for the locals, artists from around the country, and international guests from all over. That is a crucial part of festivals, the meeting and social aspect that is otherwise missing from a typical viewing experience.
A film festival converges media, politics, ideas, and audiences into one event.
Often international film festivals are born out of some political position. For instance, the Hong Kong International Film Festival was developed in response to the People’s Republic of China, forming a new identity for Hong Kong. Berlinale was created during the American occupation of Germany and the Cold War.
The politically charged beginnings of festivals open them up as platforms to discuss sensitive issues that may otherwise be shied away from in a different setting.
Artists, FLEFF Scholars, speakers, musicians, and filmmakers attend the festival within the Ithaca Commons from all around the globe. The variety of events showcased at FLEFF attracts people of all ages and disciplines, creating an inclusive audience.
A community formed by the shared experiences of winter creates local connections. FLEFF promotes these personal connections but on an international scale. The unique experience of attending an occasion such as FLEFF forms meaningful opportunities for voices to speak and be heard in an unconventional environment.