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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 Zachary Jabine at 12:53PM

Written by Zach Jabine, Cinema and Photography ‘20, Blogging Intern, Buffalo, New York


Buffalo in winter is sort of like a bizarro version of hell. The cold sits in your bones; you feel the cracks when you get up, joints creaking in unison with your mattress. My dad rolled his own cigarettes, and each morning I’d join him outside, coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other, faint breath indistinguishable from smoke. That’s how I remember spending a lot of winter break mornings; the faint dulcet tones of Terry Gross whispering out of the radio, my dad outside smoking or at his computer, engrossed in the news. It was during those long, frozen winter months that I first discovered the power of film; watching old Kurosawa noir with my dad, a bespectacled Toshiro Mifune trying desperately to find his kidnapped son, neither of us saying anything. It was like our own version of church.


My name is Zach Jabine; I'm a Junior Cinema and Photography major, in the Cinema Production concentration. I'm particularly interested in cinematography and fiction cinema production, as well as having a pronounced love for screenwriting (or, more accurately, creative writing in all forms). On a more personal level, I have a passion for horror cinema and media of all shapes and sizes; particularly horror which examines the ills of modern society and human nature (as all good horror does) through the lens of gender and the environment. I grew up devouring Stephen King, before moving to authors like HP Lovecraft and Robert Chambers; authors who blended the mundane and the abjectly strange, who would oscillate from dreary banality to the complete dissolution of good sense. Authors who would, uh, disrupt the normal, if you will.


I feel obligated to acknowledge that my experience with FLEFF is minimal. I have attended screenings in the past, and in particular quite enjoyed viewing last year's Kill Me Please (dir. Anita Rocha da Silveira) for a group project for Brad Rappa's (bless his beautiful soul) Activism and Environmental Media class. The film affected me in a way I wasn't quite expecting; switching gears deftly from a rather generic "girls get killed a lot and brutally" slasher movie into a dreamlike meditation on adolescent sexuality and isolation, in a landscape rendered barren and corrupt from the encroachment of human development. I was, admittedly, unaware that films such as Kill Me Please would be playing as a part of FLEFF. To see a film as horrific and affecting as Kill Me Please, a film simultaneously exploring turmoil in young female lives and human corruption of our surrounding environment, excited my curiosity in what FLEFF had to offer.


The diversity of films shown at FLEFF, from films like Kill Me Please to animated Chinese gangster films like Have A Nice Day, showcases a huge reason FLEFF interests me: versatility. FLEFF is capable of showing wildly varied media while still managing to entertain and dissect cohesive, universal themes: discussing and analyzing our environment in a more mainstream sense - how humans interact with nature - and also in the sense of how humans can construct our own twisted and corrupt ecosystems within our facilities, cultures, and institutions.


In particular, this year's theme of disruptions resonates with me. We seem to be going through a period of vast, dramatic upheaval on a global scale; where, like in the weird fiction of Lovecraft and Chambers, life is increasingly surreal and strange, as humans contend with unprecedented ridiculousness nationally and globally. Festivals like FLEFF are desperately needed, to examine how we, as humans, affect and disrupt our environments in permanent, long-lasting, and primarily (but not always) negative ways.


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