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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 9:54PM

I’ve never learned more at a bar than at FLEFF.


Of course, I was there to learn. It was Thursday night and the festival had traveled under the cover of darkness and continued on to Red’s Bar and Grill.


There I saw Harry Greenberger and had a chance to speak to him about Staring at the Sun, his first feature film. We had been introduced earlier that day after only having spoken or written over the phone or email.


His film deals with the story of two Hasidic Jewish girls that run away from home and I wondered if he had incorporated any theology from the Abrahamic tradition into the film.


There is a common motif in Abrahamic traditions of going away and coming back.


In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are forced to leave paradise, with the hope of one day returning. Cain is punished for killing Abel by being forced to wander the Earth.


In Exodus, Moses leads the Israelites back to their homeland.


Jesus spreads forty days in the desert only to return.


Muhammad exiled from Mecca was sent to Medina. On his return home, he set the precedent for the Haj, still practiced by Muslims today.


Mr.Greenberger said that his intent was to make a film, one that was not necessarily a Jewish film or a film about judaism.

The theme I realize is more universal than just in the Abrahamic tradition. In the Odyssey, Odysseus returns to Ithaca a changed man after ten years of war and another ten years wandering the seas.


On Sunday afternoon, I saw Philip Mallory Jones present Bronzeville, etudes and riffs. The tablues of life in Chicago in the 1930s through the 1950s. Evocative of the images of Hopper and the poetry of Hughes. Two artists that I knew well.


Jones discussed how he did not see his work as disruptive. That he has continued to make his work, without letting the outside world seep in. Like Emily Grierson, inhabiting and evoking a bygone era. On a class lecture on Thursday, he discussed how after the attacks on September 11th 2001, many artists felt compelled to create works that responded directly to the horrible tragedy. He stayed to his vision and returned to Bronzeville.


Bronzeville was the center of Black Culture on the southside of Chicago from the 30s to the 50s. Where Philip Mallory Jones grew up, and where he returns after attending Cornell in the 1960s and 1970s, staying for ten years to co-found the Ithaca Video festival and leaving his mark on the vibrant video art community in upstate New York.


Perhaps a disruption can appropriate trends. Perhaps it is necessary. There greater disruptions to common narratives can change what we consider normal. The greatest benefit being that there is no normal and there is no we. At FLEFF, artists and writers and thinkers gather together to discuss and debate. When the festival is over and they return home, they all go somewhere different.


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