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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 Emma Zarabet at 12:53AM

Like every other naive film student coming into college, I thought that the Sundance Film Festival was the end all be all for film festivals. It wasn’t until I began class with FLEFF, that I learned that these big name festivals of Berlin or Cannes might not be all they're cracked up to be.


Why of course these film festivals such as Berlin or Cannes, do show some great new films, Hollywood still holds a big influence on the movies that screen. The see these festivals as grounds for marketing and distributing the next big film, and care less about the awards and more about the promotion.


The way Hollywood does this is by entering their films “out of competition” just for the exposure, so these “Big White Whale” films can be seen at festivals.


One of the most interesting thing that I recently learned about festivals, is that there are three categories that one can fall under. Elite, “A-List” festivals, geopolitical festivals, and curated themed festivals.


Many big name festivals fall under the geopolitical category and capitalize on the tourism that festivals being in and use them for the local businesses and economy.


FLEFF, however, falls under the last category mentioned and uses its platform to create a dialogue about the current environment of the world.


What makes FLEFF special, and stand out from other festivals, is the open discussions it facilitates. FLEFF focuses on more than just film, and places value on the intellectual conversations that take place at festivals. It doesn’t allow its invited guests to just pop in for a day, but instead has them stay for an extended period of time so that they can attend events and talk to people. It also has discussions that can last up to 30 minutes, while other festivals such as Sundance only allot ten minutes for discussions.


Festivals are a place for questions and ideas that counter the status quo. These spaces are safe for people to speak up and share their beliefs, even if they come from a place that usually silences them.


I think it’s important to recognize film fests as spaces that encourages new thoughts and ideas. Festivals are places that combine art, politics, and current issues and create a meeting place for people to talk about them. Festivals are full of all different types of people and exist as place for these worlds to collide.


While, yes, festivals do exist as a market for films to be distributed in on the business side, they are a disservice, transnational meeting place for creative minds.


Overall, my favorite thing I’ve learned about festivals s that celebrate innovation and encourage thinking outside of the box.


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