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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Blog posting by Kaley Belval, Documentary Studies and Production '15, FLEFF Blogger, Woodbury, CT
Film festivals operate as spaces of intellectual exploration and discovery, shifting the ideas with which viewers come into the festival holding onto. As their exposure to the multitude of films and events increases, the preconceptions they have about each topic they encounter shift. This operates through a variety of methods that can be discussed through the concepts defined in Marijke de Valck's book, "Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia."
According to de Valck, festivals can operate as "sites of passage" for both the films and filmmakers alike. They are integral to the distribution, evaluation and ultimate success of a project that can either thrive or fall apart at the hand of festival-goers. At FLEFF, some films are shown for the first time while others are veterans of the circuit. For those filmmakers who are just starting out, it offers the opportunity to be indoctrinated into the festival world while getting their work recognized. For audience members, festivals can become a window into a new world and area of interest.
Another concept that de Valck discusses is the relationship between the media and film festivals. In anticipation for the week of the festival, as well as throughout it, journalists thrive on access to the celebrities, filmmakers and organizers who put the event together. Meanwhile, the festival staff relies on the media in order to spread the word about all of the screenings so that there is an audience excited about attending or reading about their festival. As bloggers, we inhabit the role of the media getting information to the public about which events are scheduled, who will be in attendance and what films to look out for.
Next, de Valck examines the film festival as a “spectacle.” The whole organization of FLEFF, from its musical performances to spoken word to workshops to film screenings, becomes a fascinating experience that dazzles and intellectually stimulates the audience.
de Valck also writes about thematic festivals, a genre that allows for films from all over the world to be showcased together. In FLEFF, films from Latin America, Asia, Europe along with the United States are displayed under the unifying theme of “the environment,” specifically this year under the definition of “habitats.”
Similar to the concept of the festival as a “spectacle,” de Valck discusses “the experience economy,” an environment in which younger generations choose to participate in social events as a form of leisure. This contributes to film festivals such as FLEFF by gaining an audience in these younger populations due to their popularity. It is now deemed “cool” to attend festivals in order to experience an intellectually engaging event unrivaled by any other.
This year, I want to examine how these concepts directly relate to FLEFF, as well as to search for other ways that the film theory we are reading can be integrated into our understanding of this experience. For all of those attending the festival, I challenge you to do the same. How have you seen these concepts in previous festivals?