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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, April 5, 2020
By Noah Dunne, Exploratory student with a minor in Honors, '23, FLEFF blogging intern, Beverly, Massachusetts.
This week, I watched the desktop cinema Amazonia by Roger Beebe as well as the production Journey To The Planet Of Nuclear Chewing Gum directed by Vera Sebert/Candy Pix Productions. Both videos took a spin on issues of sustainability, and more explicitly explored the imprint we may not know we have on our planet.
For example, the focus of Amazonia is the carbon footprint left behind by the major corporation Amazon and delves into how we are ignoring the impact our purchases have on the environment.
Planet of Nuclear Chewing Gum however is more focused on the environmental impact of products, in this case gum, and how they take an astounding amount of time to degrade.
What I will say about both films is they build an atmosphere using audio queues. Amazonia is a rather quiet. It utilizes a casual desktop style filming technique in order to build this soft atmosphere, but also has moments where it becomes loud and brash in order to convey certain messages.
Nuclear Chewing Gum switches constantly between blaringly loud noises to complete silence, which builds an almost suspenseful atmosphere accompanied by what become somewhat disturbing visuals.
For me, I was able to discern the themes at play in Amazonia much faster than in Nuclear Chewing Gum. In Amazonia, the point became self-evident for me when Roger states: “But these stretches of unlovable architecture are both a consequence and a symptom of the moment of capital that we inhabit”. Here, commentary is being made on the stretching mall architecture in a suburban town. I could read from the tone and word choice that the creator has distaste for such a presence, and the rest of the film follows this idea in more detail.
Nuclear Chewing Gum was much more difficult for me to analyze. In fact, I needed to read more about the project in order to properly understand the point being conveyed. Nuclear Chewing Gum caught me completely off-guard however, displaying images and clips of cold-war and fictional themed interactions. The addition of movable objects that resembled random body parts and objects as well as the narrative and fictional story being told build a unique and almost dream-like atmosphere that makes the whole film extremely memorable.
I don’t want my tone to be misread, I enjoyed both films, I just took note of the fact that they approach issues from very different angles.
I then explored the regular Infiltrations page, first looking at Wenhua Shi and his experimental short films. I took note of the films Senses of Time and Die Nacht as I found them both beautiful and thought-provoking.
They seem to take the same approach as Nuclear Chewing Gum utilizing silent moments as well high pitches whirring and a plethora of other audio queues. The difference here being that Wenhua Shi’s messages are hidden more deeply within the symbolism of his films. In fact, senses of time for me was rather cryptic, and compared to Nuclear Chewing Gum, seems more focused on the art of the film rather than the themes being portrayed.
The short film darts between clips of industrial and man-made inventions accompanied by almost electric sounds being played in the background. Sometimes these sounds are subtle and subliminally influence the tone of the film, but other times they become so loud they stole my attention and distracted me from what I was watching.
Die Nacht shows an almost poetic dialogue at the end which aided my understanding of the themes at play, but without this accompaniment, the film would remain a mystery to me, simply showing a window from night till day, and then back to night.
Overall. Films on either one of the exhibitions take similar approaches however the Infiltrations exhibitions seemed more geared towards visual art, while the radical exhibitions seemed more focused on the shock factor and displaying a clear message about the issues of sustainability present on our planet.