About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, February 4, 2019
Written by Zach Jabine, FLEFF Blogger, Cinema and Photography '20, Buffalo, New York
I take most aspects of my life for granted. I think we all do, on some level, but I myself have a nasty tendency to accept banal, mundane things, things subject to wild variance, as scripture.
When I was a kid, I didn’t handle change well.
I still don’t, not in particular. I remember crying in the parking lot of a Chipotle on my birthday because I couldn’t see the movie I wanted. It was typical entitled child stuff, dramatic and dumb, exasperating to my parents. I was 10, maybe 12, somewhere in there. Hard to remember.
For some reason, however dumb, that memory kept running through my head while I was thinking about FLEFF’s theme this year: Disruptions. It’s a bad example of a disruption, because it was only so in the mildest sense, in the undeveloped mind of a twelve year old. However, it was a disruption, and one of the more common ones at that. People deal with disruptions daily; mostly, they’re little things, things you don’t even notice, or only notice after they’ve been fixed. Sometimes, if it disrupts something you take for granted - the way a 12-year-old takes their birthday for granted - they become more than that; they can ruin our day, our week. It’s rare for it to extend beyond that, though. Disruptions can vary widely in their annoyance as relative to you, but for the most part, they don’t affect us in dramatic, permanent ways. We adapt to them; we move on.
Fortunately, these are not the disruptions FLEFF peddles in. FLEFF does more than mildly annoy; it attacks what we take for granted, interrogates it, questions a validity otherwise asserted by its status as unquestionable. FLEFF itself is a disruption of the Film Festival norm; by explicitly incorporating varied media from vastly diverse origins (such as the work of visual artist Phillip Mallory Jones), FLEFF attacks and disrupts the ideas about Film Festivals we take for granted, making us ask ourselves how we define a Film Festival, and how we can change that definition to make it better. On what level is a Film Festival strictly about Film? Can it be more? Should it be more?
Last year, I saw at FLEFF an animated Chinese gangster movie called Have a Nice Day. I’ve talked about it before, but the film has been on my mind the last week, in thinking about disruptions. It’s form itself disrupts our ideas of how gangster movies behave. It’s not kinetic, frenetic, particularly violent or colorful. Its limited animation gives the film a sense of stagnancy; people and places sit still like statues, until an action is called for, and then their movements are violent, chaotic, disruptive. The film is about a mob driver who steals a million yuan from his boss; the film consists of the theft, and various peoples attempts to locate him and the cash. Almost everyone is dead by the end. The simple theft of a million yuan, by an employee who otherwise would never have even registered on the Boss's radar, ends in the total destruction of his empire.
I think Have A Nice Day in particular shows the kind of disruptions FLEFF works in, is part of inherently. We take so much for granted in this world; our birthdays, our jobs, our employees. These things may remain unchallenged for vast stretches of time, only to upturn themselves in a moment, and send your whole life spinning. Theft from a trusted employee would certainly make you question your own self, your judgment, your ability to read others. FLEFF’s disruptions are not momentary distractions, weekly annoyances; they are focused attacks on institutions and established norms, on definitions themselves, on all the things we treat as scripture. They persist and remain and permanently change how we view the world.
I can’t wait to be changed.