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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, March 8, 2019
Blog post written by Edward Willshire, Philosophy, '19, FLEFF Intern, South Orange, New Jersey.
In an explanation of his own work, Polish-born filmmaker and visual artist, Pawel Wojtasik said, “Utilizing the camera as a detached eye, I try to objectively address topics ranging from sewage treatment, trash disposal, laboratory animals to environmental problems and anatomical autopsies.”
He will be screening two documentary films at FLEFF this year: His latest, The End and the Means, and End of Life, his first feature-length film. Prior to directing features, Wojtasik has had a long career in short films and large-scale art installations.
The two films that will be screened at FLEFF exemplify his artistic vision.
End of Life follows five different individuals with terminal illnesses at various stages in the process of dying. Along with his filmmaking partner John Bruce, Wojtasik trained to be an end-of-life doula in preparation for this project. The film shows a documentation of the four years and hundreds of hours spent with the subjects as Wojtasik and Bruce immerse themselves and the audience into the realities of dying. End of Life invited its audience to reflect on their own mortality while witnessing the deterioration of the film’s subjects.
The film asks the audience to reflect on death in a way most people avoid doing until they face it themselves. Jordan Mintzer from The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review, “A difficult sit at times, the film nonetheless leaves you with the impression that dying is yet another facet of life.” This quote touches on why End of Life is a fitting film for FLEFF’s 2019 theme of Disruptions. “[Death is] perhaps something less to fear than to experience as fully as possible.” Wojtasik pushes a conversation that is rarely had in other venues.
Wojtasik’s second film, The End and the Means, is similarly disruptive. Both films explore the meeting of the mundane and the significant, but in very different ways.
The End and the Means draws on Wojtasik’s “mind-blowing experience” visiting India around 2008, as well as the spiritual ideas of Buddhism, which he studied while in residence at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Buddhist monastery in Ulster County, NY.
The End and the Means explores the lives of several different laborers in India, including a crane operator, a surgeon, a masseur, and a table drum maker, among others. Taking a page from the Indian worldview that everything and everyone is linked, each individual story weaves together to form a composite vision of society.
Wojtasik’s films are challenging. They take real stories and real people and insert them into our lives. Disrupting what we may have assumed we understood about certain cultures or society in its entirety.
Wojtasik will be at Cinemapolis for both The End and the Means and End of Life. With a Q&A after each screening and a shot-by-shot analysis workshop on Ithaca College’s campus, Wojtasik’s works are a must-see at FLEFF 2019.