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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 Kimberly Capehart at 5:47PM
The first shot of Mansoor Behnam's film "Cup of Coffee with Kafka"

Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Hey all! 

I'm currently sitting in Williams 202, waiting for the screening of Mansoor Behnam's experimental film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka. Behnam, himself, is here and ready to talk to the FLEFF-goers in the room. Stay tuned to read about Behnam's comments, and my thoughts on the film.

5:32 pm: Benham thanks the class for coming and introduces his film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka. 

As an immigrant to Canada in 2006, Benham says that he experienced feelings of displacement and alienation in his time of transition, and that his work reflects very personally on his experience.

In 2010, he attended a panel with the theme of "in transit." Behnam says he was fascinated with the idea of transit and mobilities. 

Along with a friend, Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla, a diasporic Mexican filmmaker, Behnam crafted an experimental documentary reflecting on the theme that fascinated and touched them both. 

"It has an element of instability and change, so sometimes the film may look different than that of 'typical films'" he preludes.

The lights are dimming and the film is starting, get ready.....!

The film opens with a definition of the word "transit," followed by a handheld, sped up, blue filter-tinged shot of people and cars passing as the person holding the camera walks down the street. This lasts approximately 50 seconds until the film stops. Apparently we have only a short clip of the film set up on the computer, so it'll be a few minutes while moderator Tom Shevory figures things out.

5:42 pm: A DVD of the film is loaded and ready to go! 

5:43 pm: The film is restarted, and this time it plays for more than 50 seconds (yay!). The handheld images taken while the cameraperson walks (which are reminiscent of the dizzying feature film, Cloverfield) are spliced between interviews of filmmakers as they explain their definition of transit. 

Some filmmakers define the term literally, as a state of motion. Others offer up more creative definitions, often accompanied by stories and examples. I wish I had seen this film when I offered up my own definition of mobilities

5:55 pm: More technical difficulties! Static noise consumes the classroom and the picture on screen breaks and jumps in slow motion. Once again, our moderator and filmmaker are on the case, trying to figure it out. 

6:01 pm: The film is working again, but this time we're watching it through YouTube. Isn't technology great?

6:02: Except buffering. Buffering is not great. The classroom is ringing with suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded buffer awaiting a thirty-six minute film.

6:11: The film is working again, again.

The documentary-style interviews with the filmmakers offer some interesting views and definitions of the word "transit." But, coupled with visible microphones, varying aspect ratios, random cuts on action and more distanciating elements, the film is definitely experimental in nature - an interesting and refreshing take on the art of documentary filmmaking.

6:25 pm: The film has ended and Behnam is waiting to answer questions. 


"I like nomadism. I'm trying to turn this concept of 'instability' and 'homelessness' into being 'in a home'."

"Through the element of change, we are actually fixed. We are fixed in a constant state of change."


6:31 pm: He explains concepts of change through examples of science and paradoxes. 

"For me on one hand change is internal, it's existential. On the other hand, its physical. As an experimental filmmaker, I try to reflect that through my work. It's not bounded by rules or borders, so it can always be changing."

If you couldn't be here and would still like to see Behnam's film, you can find it on YouTube

What is your definition of transit?

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