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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 17, 2019
My first FLEFF experience was in an occupational therapy class at 8:30 in the morning.
I am not an occupational therapy major. I didn’t go to that class to learn about occupational therapy. I went to that class to watch a short documentary called black enuf.
The film centers on a black American filmmaker questioning what it means to be black. Though I had just rolled out of bed minutes before, I discussed the nuances of racial identity with several OT majors, an OT professor, and a middle-aged man from Cameroon.
In this first FLEFF experience, I learned that Ithaca College is deeply involved in the festival. All events on the IC campus are free and open to the public. The festival is programmed by Ithaca professors Dr. Patricia Zimmermann and Dr. Tom Shevory. Assistant Provost Dr. Tanya Saunders ensures that FLEFF has the funds and resources it needs.
FLEFF is interdisciplinary. While dozens of films are shown during the festival, there’s also a concert, new media exhibitions, and panels featuring writers, artists, and activists. The FLEFF Fellowship Program brings in doctoral and graduate students of color whose expertise ranges from chemistry to history.
The purpose of FLEFF is to ignite meaningful discussions. Unlike a film festival where filmmakers submit their work, FLEFF is entirely curated by its programmers. Every guest and every piece of work is chosen for its potential to make a viewer question what they know.
FLEFF is scholarly. Professors bring their work to the festival, like Barbara Adams who hosts writers and artists through the Ithaca City of Asylum. Professors also bring the festival to their work, like Dr. Jonathan Ablard who is currently conducting historical research on the Indian raid featured in the FLEFF film El Ultimo Malon.
FLEFF includes the Ithaca community. Professors and students make up only part of the festival attendees. There are also hundreds of guests from the city of Ithaca, who bring varied perspectives to the festival discussions, and who may not otherwise see works from Israel or Iran or China.
When I watched black enuf in that occupational therapy classroom, with diverse perspectives making for a powerful discussion right there on Ithaca's campus, I entered a microcosm of what FLEFF is as a whole.