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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 Chloe Wilson at 8:02PM   |  2 comments

Blog posting written by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio ’14, FLEFF Intern, Ashland, Massachusetts.

Before you read the rest of this post, you should know that Kaley Belval blogged about an amazing interview with filmmakers Laura Kissel and Jessica Bichler earlier in the week.  That being said, I sat through a talk with Kissel and heard her talk in depth about her film, Cotton Road, and the ideas behind its production.

(P.S. Did you know she was a Fulbright Scholar?! That's amazing!)

Cotton Road is an analysis of globalization through one of the world's most popular commodities: cotton. The film shows the journey of cotton from South Carolina to factories in Shanghai to a retail store, while analyzing the landscape of social relations and the effect of globalization on the economy.

Kissel said that the following questions went into the creation of her film:

  • Where do things come from?
  • How does the movement of a commodity also structure social relations?
  • Is globalization bad?  Or good?
  • What defines our current moment?
  • How does landscape help organize social relations?
  • What is the true (and mostly hidden) cost of the t-shirt that you buy for $9.99?

Kissel showed us a sourcemap of a supply chain.  It was incredibly extensive and it helps individuals find out where product have gone and where they are going to go.  "We want people to think about mapping their own clothing and other products that they are interested in," said Kissel.  "What is the impact of shipping an object from South Carolina to China?"

Kissel also talked about the main issues that she is interested in that will be brought up in Cotton Road:

  • The price of labor and the price of goods (since when is $19.95 the true cost of anything?)
  • The environmental impacts of production and consumption
  • Is [a product] global or local?
  • Transparency and greater awareness

One of Kissel's main points was audience engagement and outreach.  "How should we tell audiences about the film?"  Kissel asked us.  "How do we engage audiences? And where are your audiences?  You have to find them... [For Cotton Road] the audience is students and young people.  So how can we engage those audiences?"

Social media, of course!  Kissel plugged the soon to be interactive website and encouraged us to like the Facebook page and to tweet @cottonroadmovie to share opinions and comments.  You should definitely check out the sites.

Cotton Road will be shown at Cinemapolis this Saturday at 2 PM, FLEFFers!  Are you as excited to see it as I am?


This is one of the film's I'm most excited to see! Great writing.

I'm glad you liked it! It's nice to see that I'm not the only one excited to see Cotton Road. Plus, Kissel is so nice!

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