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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 8:10PM

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

In retrospect, FLEFF week was one of the most mentally rigorous experiences I have ever had. However, from my perspective, all the weeks of hard work, readings, assignments, and interviews came in handy once FLEFF week began. I was (positively) disrupted at every point of my immersion into the festival, in terms of the people and ideas that I was exposed to. For the sake of brevity, I will outline my major takeaways below.

  1. FLEFF is not just a film festival.

FLEFF is not just a film festival, it is so much more. At every point in time, on and off campus I was never too far from debates or discussions of ideas. Some of the most in-depth discussions I had were with artists and intellectuals like Phil Mallory Jones, Kelly Gallagher, Pawel Wojstasik and many more. I was pleasantly struck by how the discussions at the festival were not just about large theoretical ideas but also about how we should be intentional about self-care and the planet.

  1.  Disruptions can be interpreted in so many ways.

In the course of the week, I experienced the various ways in which various FLEFF participants disrupted certain beliefs surrounding politics, social norms, histories, representations, death, gender, sexuality and much more. One of the films that resonated with me on a deep level was Kelly Gallagher’s animated film about her friendship with her best friend. The film resonated with me was because it disrupted the notion that women should only rely on romantic partners for fulfillment and intimacy. After watching that film, I started to reevaluate some of the values that I have wrongfully ascribed to romantic relationships.

Pawel Wojstasik’s film “End of Life” disrupted my presumptions about what a film about death would reveal to me. Before I set foot into the Cinemapolis on that Sunday, I had a slight sense of dread. I assumed that watching a film about people who are terminally ill would upset me. I found that the film was not directly focused on death but rather on how one can come to accept death and dying. I did not experience the fear I had wrongfully assumed, rather I experienced a calmness come over me. I was left feeling sad but not in despair or fear.

  1. Interdisciplinary work that is intellectual, creative and collaborative is possible.

During my FLEFF experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see a vast amount of interdisciplinary and collaborative work. FLEFF would look entirely different if there were no interdisciplinary and collaborative work at the festival. From my experience the reason why, I learned so much during the week because the theme “disruptions” was approached from a myriad of perspectives, mediums, cultures, etc. I was encouraged and challenged to engage with what I saw or discussed in complex and nuanced ways. I left every session feeling inspired and curious about learning more about what I had heard or seen.

  1. FLEFF is not just local, it’s global as well

FLEFF is not just concerned about local or national issues, it is concerned with what occurs in the global sphere. I was challenged by some of the international films that were shown. The one that remains on my mind is “Swing Kids”. Experiencing this unorthodox war genre film challenged my limited understanding of black soldiers’ experiences during the Korean War. It also challenged my myopic view of war as simply being fought in one (geographic) place. With further reflection, I realized that any war has far-reaching implications for the global community even if it may not seem related to war.

FLEFF week disrupted my fears, expectations, perceptions, and ideas in many surprising and sometimes gut-wrenching ways. Regardless, I believe that what I experienced has pushed me further to continue to ask questions and think of ways that I make connections between ideas, beliefs, and perspectives.

If the opportunity arises, I would love to be back here in Ithaca to experience the passionate, creative and intellectual energy of FLEFF 2020.

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