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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 Alexandra Coburn at 8:34AM
Alex Coburn on the waterfront of her hometown, Louisville, Kentucky.

Blog posting written by Alex Coburn, FLEFF Intern majoring in Cinema and Photography ‘20 with minors in English and Honors from Louisville, Kentucky.


I was 16, attending Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, when my film instructor first exposed me to Sundance.


He had Sundance hopes for his latest feature Pleased to Meet Me. I began to hope along with him. I was an impressionable high school filmmaker with a few Criterions (speciality, collector's edition blu-rays). I clung to anything that would connect me to the “real film world.”


Sundance loomed large throughout high school. I fixated on winning the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Feature. I practiced my acceptance speech. I mingled with PT Anderson and Wes Anderson in my dreams.


But at Ithaca College, the courses in my Cinema and Photography major expanded my worldview exponentially. I devoured readings on film theory. I quoted Laura Mulvey’s "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" at least once a day.


I fell in love with analytical writing. After my first film aesthetics and analysis class, I hungered to explore all these competing discourses. I haunted my professors’ office hours. I fashioned any excuse to talk to them about their research. I soaked up their words like a sponge.


Now, I don't just want to be a filmmaker. I still want to make films, but I also want to write about them. I want to be like Maya Deren, whose essay "Ritual in Transfigured Time" has influenced me just as much as her film Meshes of the Afternoon.


My stint as a peer tutor in that same film aesthetics class made me besotted with analysis. I needed a new intellectual landscape to explore. FLEFF stood out from the festivals of my adolescent dreams.


The more I researched the commercial entertainment industries, the more discouraged I became. I am a young woman trying desperately to enter a field that erects barriers barring my entrance.


My formerly beloved Sundance allusion was shattered. It might be independent, but straight, white men still dominate the festival program each year. The world I had idealized since I was 14 now seemed narrow and exclusive.


Before FLEFF, I had never experienced a festival that heralded rather than hid the diverse voices of the changing film and media landscape. I had never seen a potential line-up featuring so many women and people of color. I supposed these revelations underscore that I had never heard of something like FLEFF.


FLEFF privileges different voices. It creates environments for dialogue. As a result, I feel very fortunate to work as a blogger. I look forward to writing about and being in awe of the dynamic, explosive media makers and artists of FLEFF 2018.


I’m especially excited for Kill Me Please, a feminist horror film directed by young, female Brazilian filmmaker Anita Rocha de Silveira.


Dear Ms. Rocha De Silveira: I would like to be you when I grow up.


Despite all of the political negativity flooding the news cycle of 2018, FLEFF works like a positive counter-balance, fixing the scales of the universe.


With nationalism and exclusion rising around the globe, FLEFF’s theme of geographies forces  us to open our own borders at least for a week. It galvanizes a different environment from any of the festivals I once dreamed about as a teenager.


I no longer idealize Sundance. 14-year-old me wished upon a star each night for the chance to one day see my films there. Now, I have different hopes for myself and other young women in the film industry. I wish now for more festivals like FLEFF.


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