About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Blog Posting By Hannah Basciano, Documentary Film Production, '17, FLEFF Blogger, Lancaster, PA
He was an English major.
He was an English major. That is, until he discovered his love of film.
Young, bright, and curious: Matthew Holtmeier started off his career in higher education as a student at Western Washington University. There, he signed up for his first film course.
Immediately intrigued, Holtmeier checked out Bicycle Thieves from the University's film library after a professor suggested it in class. "That was the eye-opening moment."
He became a regular at the local arts cinema, Pickford Theater. When he wasn't glued to the screen, he was getting recommendations of what to watch next by the buffs at his favorite video store, Film is Truth.
"That habitat of cinephila is what allowed me to cultivate an interest and desire in film."
Then a budding cinephile, Holtmeier invested himself to the literature of his philosophy course, the work of French philosopher and metaphysician, Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze helped him start to see the political implications in cinema, and after another year of politics courses, he sat down to watch every film with an eye for political theory.
Holtmeier then took his new found passions to Scotland. As a graduate student at St. Andrews University, he was able to combine his two favorite areas of study: motion pictures and politics.
The combination culminated in the success of his dissertation, The Modern Political Cinema: Biopolitical Production and Cinematic Subjectivity.
His work focuses on the intersection of philosophy and film, identity and ideology, as well as concerning the ways in which people's lives are lived (otherwise known as Biopolitics.) He applied his thesis to films from Iran, China, Algeria, and the United States, creating an international dialogue on a common theme.
After receiving his PhD in film studies, he returned to Western Washington University to teach from 2013-2014. He then switched coasts to the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Screen Studies. Here in Ithaca, he teaches Introduction to Film Analysis and Aesthetics and Hollywood and American Film, as well as the FLEFF mini course new to this year's festival, Political Habitats: Narrative Film as Activism.
Holtmeier is very excited to join the FLEFF team, especially having never attended the festival before! "It adds an exploratory element," he explains.
At first impression, Holtmeier was specifically interested in the E-nvironmental in FLEFF, and as he learned more about the festival, he started to realize, "it's not just about the environment, it's about ecologies."
"My topic for this year is about political habitats. There is a political ecology in some of the films, which may or may not have anything to do with the environment, but when we think about ecologies they work in a certain way. They're interdependent. There's a set of actors or components that rely on one another to create a space that works together. This is the same with politics. You have a set of ideologies, places, events, or people, and these things are connected and react together and what emerges is a particular political environment."
Holtmeier was also very excited to learn about Ramin Bahrani's previous involvement with FLEFF. "When I was researching I realized that Ramin Bahrani premiered one of his films here, came to the festival, and actually spoke at the festival. He's one of the key director's in my thesis. So, I was very excited that FLEFF brought in not only particular directors I am interested in, but also quite prominent directors. There is a level of profile that FLEFF has. It is an important film festival."
He is looking forward to examining this year's theme, Habitats, as it relates to the political and cultural contexts of the films that will be featured. His anticipation grows with every film that emerges onto the program.
Do you have a film that influenced your inner cinephile?
To learn more about Professor Matthew Holtmeier, visit Ithaca College's faculty page.
Are you an Ithaca College student who wants to sign up for Professor Holtmeier's mini-course? Log in to Homerconnect and add General Communications course 10900.