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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 Zachary Jabine at 11:09AM

Written by Zach Jabine, Cinema and Photography ‘20, Blogging Intern, Buffalo, New York


I feel slightly embarrassed as a Cinema Production major to admit my festival experience has been rather limited. My immersion in the FLEFF world this semester is my first real taste of film festival culture on a first-hand level. Before this semester, my knowledge in said subject was rather limited; I had imagined film festivals as curated screenings of select films, with a focus on networking and securing distribution behind the scenes. It’s only been a month, but my strange trip into the world of FLEFF has blown apart my preconceptions of what a film festival entails, introducing me to a world far larger and more complex than I had ever imagined. I may still be a festival newbie, but there are a couple things I’ve learned that I think illustrate what makes FLEFF so vital, as well as illuminate a larger framework of film festival culture.


FLEFF is simultaneously international and beholden to its geographical location. FLEFF’s location in the heart of the Finger Lakes, and its partnership with local institutions such as the REACH Project, is central to FLEFF’s culture. At the same time, however, FLEFF incorporates partnerships with fellows across the world, and that geographic diversity allows for increased dissemination of the discussion and dialogue that are crucial to FLEFF’s goal. Speaking of…


Active discussion is crucial to FLEFF’s mission. Dr. Zimmermann heavily emphasizes the importance of active, beyond-superficial discussion of media shown at FLEFF. The amount of controversy and discussion a piece of media provokes is a measure of its success, and the success of the festival itself. It’s better to be talked about, even negatively, than not talked about at all. By organizing after-screening discussions, lead by faculty from a wide range of disciplines, FLEFF encourages and promotes critical thinking about the media we watch, and that thorough examination of how we view art is at the heart of the film festival.


Interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial. As Stewart Auyash noted when I talked to him last week, collaboration between disciplines is “key” in sustaining the kind of well-rounded discussion FLEFF thrives on. The Faculty Advisory Board pulls members from every school on IC’s campus; by bringing a wide range of perspectives and specialties to discussions, a more well-rounded dialogue is achieved. In this way, I’ve learned that...


A film festival is about more than just film. Specifically, FLEFF incorporates a wide range of media in their screenings; just this year, the multimedia art of Philip Mallory Jones will be shown, among others, showcasing how FLEFF includes more than just film in their screenings. FLEFF’s multimedia approach fits right in with their interdisciplinary focus; by showing art beyond film, FLEFF incorporates multiple perspectives on this year’s disruptions theme, allowing for a more well-rounded discussion to take shape.

And, finally: Film festivals are staggeringly complex, and rife with in-group jargon. My basic understanding of what a film festival entails has been thoroughly eviscerated by my short time in the FLEFF world. An awe-inspiring amount of work goes into producing, scheduling, and running a film festival; there’s a landmine of politics to navigate, as well as a large repertoire of jargon and lingo I’m still trying to get a handle on. I can now spot “White Whale” movies like a sore thumb. Slowly, I’m learning that FLEFF - and film festivals as a whole - reach far wider and burrow far deeper than I had previously thought.

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