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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Blog Posting by Thomas Ball, Cinema and Photography 18' FLEFF Blogger
After the screening of The Challenge on Friday of FLEFF, the discussion opened, allowing those in attendance the chance to express their initial reactions to the film.
“If I had all the money in the world, this would not be what I would do.”
The film depicts the events of a long weekend for a small group of Qatari sheiks. They all gather in the desert to watch and participate in falconry events. These activities include riding jeeps over dunes, buying and selling falcons at auction, and watching the prize falcons hunt pigeons for sport.
In one scene a jeep has a modified muffler designed to produce constant burnouts. When excess fuel in the engine is pushed out before it has time to combust, it flares out of the muffler. The muffler is pointed down, creating a small pit in the Earth.
Other than the ability to produce flames and make shallow holes, this modification serves no purpose.
“Observant…looking at the shots like a painting.”
The first shot of the film shows the inside of a falcon breeding den. The space looks like an aircraft hanger, letting the birds fly to develop their wing strength.
The first people we see in the film are the den’s laborers. The composition of the shot makes them look tiny in the frame compared to the swarm of birds.
The shot lasts for several minutes and does not move from its initial, stationary location.
“Yuri has a lot of wealth himself”
One festival guest, who worked with Kino Lorber, the distributor of the film, had met the film’s director previously.
She only met him briefly, but knew of the director’s own wealth.
When discussing how the film portrays the lives of those in control of the majority of the wealth, the audience found it difficult to discern whether or not the film criticized the lifestyle of the rich.
The film ends with The Challenge itself. The falcon and a pigeon get released simultaneously. Giant screens display the chase. The prep team attaches the falcon to a camera which records the entire event.
As the crowd cries, “god willed it” the falcon kills the pigeon.