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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 Evan Johnson at 2:30PM   |  3 comments
FLEFF artwork

This past week, I spoke with Phil Wilde, FLEFF producer, Internship Coordinator (my boss!), and coprincipal of Insights International. We talked about the unique atmosphere of the festival, the various interpretations of the term "Environment" as well as our shared enthusiasm for soul music. Phil has been active in the festival since its inception and expressed excitement for the upcoming events.   

Evan Johnson: What are some of your responsibilities as FLEFF Intern Coordinator and have their roles or responsibilities changed this year?

Phil Wilde: What we tried to do this year was to create some teams that would allow people a lot of flexibility. If someone has a class one night - someone else can pick up the slack. It's a task where assigning someone a job in Februrary that needs to be done in April is a very difficult thing to do so having a team that's assigned the project means there's a flexibility to get the job done   

EJ: Recently, you told me about the appeal of "the big city" and a much more rural environment. Could you tell me more about why they appeal to you? 

PW: It's not what they have in common, it's more of what's different between the two. The idea of the environment is really based on where you are. So a "city' person will have a different view of the environment than a "country" person and that's something that FLEFF really plays with - the different environments people find themselves in.

EJ: The interpretations of "environment" is something that FLEFF does a terrific job of analyzing. As the festival has grown in success and popularity, how has FLEFF changed its interpretation of the term?

PW: FLEFF was very much involved in activism and the green movement at Cornell. What's become unique about FLEFF is that the kind of people who are now helping the program have a very deep around the cultural issues around the environment. Not just if we have enough air to breath but what will get us there through cultural understanding.

EJ: As an organizer, what drew you to the festival?

PW: One of the reasons i gravitated towards working with FLEFF is that I'm very conscious of people's environmental perception. It's what I studied in college and what I studied in grad school. What I tend to make films about are people's perceptions of their environment. Whether it's a person in the disabled community, urban-rural issues, or farming, food and putting food on the table. I'm always interested in people's personal perspective and I try very hard not to prejudge. And that's what FLEFF tends to be.

EJ: What are some different perspectives audiences can expect this year at FLEFF?

PW: I think its very similar to previous years only in that the films are not typical environmental films. People would have a hard time calling some of the films "environmental films." But the perspective of the people who are programming it have brought a good enough explanation so that we'll understand those things.

EJ: Are there any long term plans you have for FLEFF outside of the Ithaca area?

PW: I really don't think there's a need to address that. If it grows in the same way it's been growing then I don't think it needs to leave the Ithaca area. Maybe something in the city that shows us off - but I think we're doing quite alot by having it here at Ithaca College.    

EJ: What is the best part about having FLEFF interns?

PW: It's absolutely their ethusiasm. I know what they're about to experience and how much they'll enjoy it. Some people have no idea what we're about to do - others have seen it last year or the year before but it's always an amazing event when it happens because people find a common bond after watching all these films.      


I've often thought about how where a person lives affects how they see their relationship to the environment or if they even care about the "environment." I would guess that many people who live in a rural state like Vermont (where I live) consider themselves to be "pro-environment." Yet, there is a lot of data showing that if I were to live in a city like New York (which is not readily associated with being a "pro-environment" kind of place), my impact on the planet would be a lot less. If all the people in NYC were to live as we do in the country (heating larger homes, traveling great distances to schools/businesses/etc.), our planet would be in even worse shape.

It's been so great having Phil as an Internship Coordinator! I absolutely love working with both him and Anne! He commented on the enthusiasm of the interns, but he also has a very enthusiastic approach when it comes to organizing FLEFF. Great interview!

Carol, that's a fascinating insight, clearly this is a complex issue. I wonder how the perspective is shifted in each area. I would think that someone seeing so much city would be more active saving what green space they have left. They might understand their impact, or at least the cost of their way of life would be more visible. Coming from an urban area, I find that I didn't even know what it was truly like in a rural area where the environment is less man-made. Once I was there I realized what I didn't have, but it took being there to recognize what I didn't have.

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