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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 Edward Willshire at 3:48PM
Edward Willshire

Blog post written by Edward Willshire, Philosophy, '19, FLEFF Intern, South Orange, New Jersey.

The past week proved to be a greater challenge than I ever could have anticipated.

If you’ve read my previous blogs or others by my peers, then you’re likely well aware of how disruptive FLEFF can be. The films that were programmed carry powerful ideas and led to equally powerful conversations. The theme of DISRUPTIONS was actualized in many ways. Whether it was the disruptive work done by Ithaca College (IC) faculty, presented on Monday at the FLEFF Faculty Research Forum, the many short films shown on campus like Frozen Faith, which I covered earlier this week in a blog you can read here, or the feature films and presentations at Cinemapolis.

No matter how one chose to weave their way through FLEFF week, challenging and disruptive ideas were unavoidable.

On top of the productive discomfort that comes from the festival environment, I faced my own personal disruption when I fell ill just ahead of the Friday FLEFF Labs and my packed weekend of screenings and discussions at Cinemapolis.

Not to be too deterred, I packed a couple dozen tissues in my pocket and stuffed my mouth with cough drops instead of movie theater popcorn. On Saturday I made my way down to Cinemapolis from my apartment on South Hill. The temperamental Ithaca clouds parted, and the sun shined through, as though it were a sign that I needed to push through my illness as well.

I’m glad I did, as every screening I was able to attend offered something different.

I was finally able to enjoy the films of Pawel Wojtasik after writing about him on March 8 and 19. End of Life, which I saw on Sunday, really resonated. As I wrote in my first blog on January 25, I lost my mother when I was a child. That trauma left me with a complicated and confused relationship with death. Wojtasik’s film is a slow but utterly beautiful meditation on dying that provided me with a great deal to think about going forward.

I also saw Swing Kids, the 2018 South Korean musical drama directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol. This film floored me. I knew from our weekly blogging seminars with Dr. Patricia Zimmermann not to expect anything too flashy or genre from FLEFF. The films were supposed to be about ideas not about style and showmanship. The brilliance of Swing Kids is how it deftly tells a heart-breaking story while not skipping out on any of the intellectual nuance that characterizes a festival film. I shed tears in the theater but have also thought about the films themes every day since.

There are many other films I could mention and even more that I missed either due to scheduling or my illness. FLEFF was a mind-bending experience, and one I couldn’t be luckier to have had as I exit my final year at IC.

Now that I’ve been through it with all its high heights and sniffly lows, I can safely say I have been disrupted. More than I ever could have imagined.

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