About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, February 18, 2019
Blog post written by Jackie Marusiak, Documentary Studies and Production ‘21, FLEFF Intern.
I walked into the first meeting of the FLEFF blogging internship seminar with no idea what to expect. Having never attended a film festival, including FLEFF, I couldn’t imagine what I would find.
In my first month as a FLEFF intern, I’ve gathered a lot of knowledge. I know about the different types of festivals and how to distinguish them. I understand how long programming takes and how complicated it gets. I’ve learned about the motivations behind festival financing and how pick up deals are negotiated.
I’ve only studied the tip of the festival iceberg, but there are a few things I’ve picked up worth sharing.
It’s all about location.
Notice how most festivals feature the location in their name? The location of a festival dictates everything: target audience, environment, even the types of films shown or the theme.
Festivals also possess different motivations. Some festivals were founded to gain cultural standing, as in the case of the Venice Film Festival in Italy. Some festivals aim to lure tourists and create an increase revenue to the cities they’re located in. Still others are anchored on one particular topic that relates to their location.
Film festivals feature more than just films.
Festivals provide screenings and premiere films, but also offer chances for discussion, filmmaker and artist appearances and multimedia presentations and experiences. When I realized that film festivals offer much more than just screenings, I became so much more excited to experience FLEFF.
FLEFF offers a wide range of events and engagement opportunities. Many participants say the annual opening concert is their favorite event during the week. The schedule also provides a plethora of panel discussions, workshops, multimedia and new media exhibits.
Politics heavily influence programming.
The local political climate greatly determines what types of films audiences see at a festival. In studying the history of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, I learned about how greatly festival programming varies according to historical and political context.
At FLEFF this year, U.S. politics contributed to the theme of Disruptions. Politics surface in many festival discussions and are central in programming the featured films. One piece may speak so clearly to the time period we are living through that it’s immediately included in the festival program.
There’s no shortage of festival lingo.
FLEFF co-director Dr. Zimmermann never fails to introduce the interns to another piece of festival or film distribution jargon. I can now sniff out a big white whale or tent-pole movie from miles away.
Film discussion = festival success.
Dr. Zimmermann also stresses the importance of film discussion and interaction with FLEFF attendees during the festival. Most programmers and organizers think about their festival in terms of meaningful and controversial discussion.
If a film garners no discussion, the festival isn’t fulfilling its purpose. The most important part of any festival is the impact on participants: what they learn, what they discuss and what they take away from their experience.