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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 Nnebundo Obi at 9:07PM
A smiling African woman, wearing her hair in an Afro. A blurred bush with bright yellow flowers is in the background.

Blog posting written by Nnebundo A. Obi, Sociology, ’19, FLEFF Intern, South Setauket, NY.

In this blog post, I will explore my ideas and thoughts regarding festival programming from last year to date. Are there any links between the past and present? What do the trends suggest? What potential opportunities do the theme, “Disruptions” present for FLEFF?  The 2018 festival’s theme on “Invisible Geographies” featured twenty new media programs that explored the invisible and obscured connections between natural and artificial environments, people as well as animals.

This year’s festival theme “Disruptions” explores the different implications of environmental and intellectual disruption. There are ways in which invisible spaces act as terrains where disruptions occur, or are mapped, or even harnessed to create new ideas and facilitate innovative problem solving and collaborative actions. When compared, “Invisible Geographies” and “Disruptions” seem to provide a common space for interrogating topics such as environmental change, globalization, dislocation, and neoliberalism.

Two films from last year’s programming: “Guee”, and “Black Gold” and open-source mapping software, the “Anti-Eviction Mapping Project” resonated with me as I scoured the FLEFF website. All three, to varying degrees, dealt with issues such as globalization, natural resources, displacement, community identity formation, and neoliberalism. I am interested in learning more about the unexpected disruptions and dislocations that have occurred as a result of the interactions between neoliberalism, globalization and the environment.

Another documentary that was featured in the “Invisible Geographies” exhibition is the documentary “Black Gold”. I gravitated towards this documentary because oil production has led to oil pollution and internal conflicts in my home country, Nigeria. This documentary interests me because it appears to provide a counternarrative to the “resource curse”, that is exemplified in the case of Norway. Ironically, oil extraction in the Global South rather than lead to prosperity, as in the case of Norway, has been at the center of the destruction of local livelihoods and ecosystems as well as conflicts. I am intrigued by the fact that the documentary shows the benefits of oil but also its limitations in terms of its sustainability.

I am interested in learning more about how various communities resist by contesting the disrupting impact of neoliberalism on the environment. Such modes of resistance sometimes include local mobilization. This is illustrated in the documentary “Guee”, which chronicles the lives of Ticuna women organizing to resist globalization and marginalization through the reclamation of their traditions and cosmology. The documentary exemplifies the ways in which the exposure of invisible geographies and grass level organization can provide the space for resistance and innovation.  I appreciate that the filmmaker emphasized that the Ticuna women’s resistance was rooted in their traditions, it is important to examine the various ways in which resistance occurs.

The internet plays a significant role in providing platforms for social movements and tools to counter the effects of social inequalities. The open source project “Anti-Eviction Project” exemplifies the convergence between an understanding of economics, inequality, race, and space among other factors. The internet disseminates tools for resistance against local, national and global pressures. In this form, the space for disruption is moved from the physical to the virtual, inviting members of the global community to participate in similar endeavors.

In terms of relating back to this year’s theme, I want to learn more about how different communities use their indigenous knowledge, information technologies, and social networks to organize their communities to safeguard their cultures and environment. I am keeping an open mind and keen to learn more about how this year’s projects explore the theme of “DISRUPTION”.


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