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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 Sydney Augustine at 12:46PM

Written by Sydney Augustine, Sports Media ‘19, Blogging Intern, Queens, New York

On the third day of FLEFF, I discovered a hidden treasure that existed on the third floor of Job Hall. A large conference room that provided an outstanding view of Cayuga Lake, no matter where you were seated at the long wooden table that engulfed the space.

After attending Monday’s enlightening WITNESS: Eyes on Ice Presentation and Tuesday’s spectacular FLEFF Concert, I continued my disruptive festival experience with Master Classes. The very first one being with festival guest Pawel Wojtasik, who is a documentary filmmaker, installation artist, and painter.

As I entered the room, which lies in the very heart of Ithaca’s campus, I was greeted by familiar and unfamiliar faces that surrounded the majestic conference table. They were all eagerly awaiting Wojtasik’s shot-by-shot analysis of Dark Sun Squeeze, just as I was.

Last fall is when I was first introduced to Wojtasik’s work in my Environment and the Media seminar led by Dr. Zimmermann. I had screened Dark Sun Squeeze and Pigs, which provided in-depth portrayals of the environment that left me speechless for many unexplainable reasons.

The Master Class with Wojtasik provided me with a deeper understanding of his work which I encountered the previous semester. It allowed me to see his films from his perspective and in a completely different light.

Wojtasik doesn’t differentiate between humans and nature for his films aren’t about either. Instead, the conscience itself is the topic.

“Making art is about facing multiple fears,” Wojtasik said during his session. He encourages everyone to face what they don’t like or fear until it doesn’t bother them anymore. Dark Sun Squeeze, the film which Wojtasik did a shot-by-shot of, was inspired by this very idea.

When Wojtasik was younger, he was troubled by how is mother became engulfed in materialism when the family left communist Poland and came to capitalist America. Having an abundance of choices in the supermarket was a symbolic moment for his mother, but it left Wojtasik unsettled.

Continuing his exploration of food led him to the sewage treatment plant in Dark Sun Squeeze, where he confronted his prejudices of materialism, excessive waste, and feces, but also went beyond them.

Throughout the Master Class, Wojtasik discussed composition, sound, movement (or lack thereof), but what was most profound for me that Wojtasik was able to find beauty in something deemed disgusting.

As he took notice of the sun gleaming on the human waste he was filming, Wojtasik processed his judgment of how he viewed waste and societal ideas of it as well.


The dark meditative journey this film takes us on is a powerful accomplishment of Wojtasik, for it forces us to reflect and question are our inner beliefs, ideas, and prejudices.


Despite the good intentions I have to help others and better the world, this Master Class unexpectedly led me to realize that I need to question the prejudices and biases I may have. None of us are perfect. I know that as long as I have them buried within, I will not be able to see my true vision and fulfill my purpose.


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