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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 Akshan Shah at 9:55PM
Dr. Thomas Shevory, Co-Director of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

By Akshan Shah, Politics and Sociology Major, '21, FLEFF blogging intern, Philadelphia, PA

“This is my turf,” Dr. Shevory said with a half-smile, speaking about the Finger Lakes region.


A mountain of books sits on Dr. Shevory’s desk. Sloping towards the door as if to escape, the books and folders sit with Dr. Shevory on a snowy, fog obscured Thursday morning.


That morning, I was greeted by the warm light from his two desk lamps and the always energetic Dr. Shevory, wearing his classic Eddie Bauer vest and rolled up khakis. I had Dr. Shevory my first semester at Ithaca College, and I remember the shock when Dr. Shevory wore a different look.


Like the Finger Lakes, Dr. Shevory is a constant in the Ithaca community.


Co-Directors Dr. Shevory and Dr. Zimmermann helped bring the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival to Ithaca College. Eighteen years later, Dr. Shevory discusses how the festival has maintained its core philosophy, and how it pursues the same mission with an interdisciplinary and international focus.


The past 18 years have not been without their hurdles, however. Dr. Shevory described how, in FLEFF’s early stages, the Fall Creek Theatre caught fire. Lightheartedly, he describes how nowadays, the partnership with the new Cinemapolis and executive director Brett Bossard has made the process fire-free and more modern.


Today, the process is much more streamlined. Cinemapolis’ executive producer Brett Bossard and both Dr. Shevory and Dr. Zimmermann’s nearly two decades at the helm of the festival are the reason for the modern experience.


Halfway through the interview, I noticed the Virtual Reality headset on his desk. The 22nd edition of the festival is different from previous years in the types of media being offered. Virtual Reality, for example, is one of the most buzzworthy aspects of the festival this year.


Dr. Miller, a professor from Concordia University and one of the industry leaders in Virtual Reality, has been working on a project that documents the Everglades region and Florida’s swamps. Her project Swampscapes is an exciting edition to FLEFF: Infiltrations.


Much like the evolution of FLEFF, Dr. Shevory’s interest in VR was organic and community based.“Somehow, this grabbed my attention,” he says with a laugh, describing how he discovered the medium. He speaks regularly with Dr. Miller and is always excited to explore multidisciplinary ways to engage politically on issues such as the environment.


Communities are inherently changing, and Dr. Shevory makes it a point to engage with as many aspects of the Finger Lakes community as possible. Ultimately, FLEFF is transformational and community based.


This year, Dr. Shevory will take another bout at defending his turf by taking it into the future, armed with the same core ethics and philosophy from its formative years.


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