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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 Gena Mangiaratti at 5:49PM   |  4 comments

Blog post by Gena Mangiaratti, Journalism '13, FLEFF intern, Feeding Hills, MA

As I've had the chance to reflect on this year's FLEFF, there are a few events that have especially stood out to me, having in some way affected my perception about art, film, or for some documentaries, the subject presented.

One of the first things the festival introduced me to was silent film. I don’t think I had previously ever watched one in entirety. During FLEFF week, I had the opportunity to watch two, The Last Laugh with John Stetch on the piano, and Siren of the Tropics, with a performance by Cynthia Henderson.

I initially found the silent films difficult to follow for the lack of dialogue, but after watching it for a while, I felt like it began to make sense, achieving that sort of ‘flow’ of any other film with dialogue. The music, while I think it would be a stretch to say ‘replaces’ the dialogue, certainly filled a space that moved the film along.

After The Last Laugh, a fellow intern and I had the chance to speak briefly with the soft-spoken John Stetch, and I was interested to learn that his performance on the piano was improvised to go along with what has happening in the film.

It was also intriguing how during Siren of the Tropics, Cynthia’s narration about Josephine Baker’s life seemed to go along at just the right time with the film.

The last event that I attended — and ended up being so glad I did — was the screening of Good Fortune, for which filmmaker Jeremy Levine (an IC alum) was present.

Shot in Kenya, the documentary questioned the ethics of Western human rights efforts in countries that have completely different cultures. It showed a completely different perspective of poverty relief efforts that I had never seen publicized before. It was both eye-opening and unsettling to watch. I feel like this film was a privilege to see.

Even though I am not a filmmaker myself, I was very grateful that Jeremy was available to speak with after the screening, if only to have the opportunity to tell him that his film was phenomenal.

How did some events change your way of thinking?


I'm glad that you were able to watch some silent films during FLEFF week. Before coming to Ithaca College, and taking a series of film courses, I would have never in a million years decided to watch a silent film by choice--I too didn't understand how a film could be entertaining without dialogue. I think there is something to say about how important a soundtrack is to a film. Today, and especially in Hollywood cinema, soundtracks are added for background music between cuts and shots, and are meant to set the tone. But, when the soundtrack becomes the only sound or the only narration it takes on a whole new importance. It takes on more than its original function of strictly music but surpasses that by creating rhetorical dimensions (i.e. pathos and logos). As you said, it moves the film along. I would further that by saying it creates the framework in which the film moves through.

The events that I think had the largest impact on me were "Messages in Motion" and "How to Get Your Break". It was great to see Laura's project because it's unique in that it allows children to film what they see in their surrounding environment. The panel discussion allowed for me to get a look at how the media industry works and how to get into it.

I was also inspired by "Messages in Motion." I hale from Philly so it is always interesting to see how other people represent my city. I also liked the structures Laura uses to execute her project. The van gives her great mobility to touch all parts of the city without being bound to any one space. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, so not only do the number of messages reflect a multiplicity of voices but each location can reflect radically different or sometimes surprisingly similar experiences. The current flexibility of her concept and its execution, allows for great growth in the future and I excitedly await to see what Laura produces next.

I'd like to add a personal reflection of mine for FLEFF week:

As the semester began I became increasingly aware of new media projects and after meeting and enjoying the company of some of the most prominent new media artists today, I have found a direction for my future that would have been impossible without the help of FLEFF. New media reaches large amounts of people, has the ability to pose large theoretical questions and multiple views because of its platform. It is a field that I find fascinating and holds huge promise for artists and activists. Not all festivals have the open-mindedness of FLEFF, so thank you, I am better for it.

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