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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 Thomas Gonzalez at 9:06PM

If someone had asked me a month ago what a film festival was, I would have given a completely different answer to than what I would today.


A month ago, I could not have described the different tiers film festivals fall under and their industrial modes. How film festivals are not simply a showcase for cinematic art, but a market place, a gathering place for artists, critics, thinkers and the public, and a place for countries to exercise soft power and expand their cultural influence.


A month ago, I could not have been able to describe how many festivals emerged around the Second World War. The Venice film festival founded by the fascist leader of Italy Benito Mussolini and the Cannes Film Festival’s founding in response in 1939 taking an anti-fascist stance. I could not have described how each of these festivals were reborn after the war and the creation of the Berlin Festival, charged by the post-war influence of the United States. I could not describe the interlocking relationship that one of the most abominable events in human history has with the birth of several of the world’s foremost modern culture centers.


A month ago, I did not understand the importance of film festivals as a place for dialogue. My imagination, having thought of such events as a place where select individuals saw select films before anyone else, and not as a place for the generation of writing and discussion. I had heard of film festivals a place where a film might get funding or be “picked up” by a producer or a distributor, but not as a place where intellectual people would come to discuss the very meaning of cinema as an artform and where it sits in the present day.


A month ago, I would not have been able to connect how FLEFF is interconnected with all other festivals. How FLEFF, both serves as a festival concerned with the specific category environmentally conscious works, but broadly invites not just cinematic art and artists, but also figures of literary disciplines and creates a bastion for new media. It is a concert of different mediums working together toward one experience.


In this first month of learning more about film festivals and being involved with FLEFF, my perspective has changed on the commercial realities of film, as well as the artistic ones. Film as an artform is categorized mostly by its mode of production, as opposed to its individual artistry and style. While there are many great cinematic artists of many disciplines, there is no distinction between films in the way that impressionist painters are distinguished from neoclassical painters. Films are predisposed to be tethered to their cost and their ability to find interested distributors. Filmmaking is as much of any artform as it is a business.


In the coming months, I hope to continually learn and grown. As FLEFF approaches, I expect there I many things I will know tomorrow, that I could not have known today.


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