About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Blogging Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
I joined the FLEFF blogging team not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to learn and I wanted to write about it. My job is a blogger. I am a number; part of a group that is part of a larger group. We are the festival team.
The theme is dissonance. It's all we've been talking about for weeks. Every time I interview someone, I ask, “What does dissonance mean to you?” because every person has a different answer.
I have learned that festivals are a place for thought, discussion, and ideas to mass together in the same pot. I am excited for this. I think FLEFF is fascinating and every person who I have talked to has been completely different. It's a giant pot of soup with ingredients and flavors that somehow meld together to create an unexpectedly pleasant, bold, and unforgettable flavor. By result of some happy circumstance, I have been able to talk with people who offered an insight on something that directly correlated with my life: a concept I learned in class the day before that made me question my opinions, an idea I was on the fence about, or perhaps something that has been floating in the gray matter of my brain for awhile now.
I was given the privilege to speak with Karen Rodriguez, Upstate Filmmakers Showcase Curator, who talked with me about her experiences in the Pacific Northwest and experimental film. Hearing her story was the encouragement I needed to solidify my desire to move to Seattle and pursue what life has to offer me there. My blogging team also had the pleasure of Skyping with Leila Nadir, co-founder of ecoarttech (and her dogs!). Leila talked with us about the environment, nature, and her work. For that whole week, I had been subject to discussion along similar veins, focusing mainly on the National Parks, in my Environmental Anthropology class. I had been visibly struggling as these ideas threatened to irrevocably destroy everything that was important to me in my life before I questioned these topics. Without even realizing it, Leila put my mind at ease and helped me to see, as she put it, that nature “exists, but it's constructed.”
Dissonance. Throwing a wrench into the mix. I experience this every day. Although a contributor to opening my mind, thus far FLEFF has also been a way for me to calm the dissonances in my life and in that way fully grasp the lessons the world is trying to teach me. These two examples embody the feelings I have been experiencing as a blogger for FLEFF the past couple months. I am a little tentative— but mostly excited— for the festival week, when every day will be these experiences one after another. I am open and ready to question the world.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog Post by Alexis Lanza, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '15, FLEFF Blogger, Enfield, CT
Ms. Karen Rodriguez, the curator for the Upstate Filmmaker's Showcase screening, has worked with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival for three years. Over the phone, she discussed her involvement with FLEFF, curating processes, and film background.
Describe your role as a curator for FLEFF.
I've been putting together the Upstate Short screening for the last two years, finding local Ithaca and upstate NY filmmakers who are doing interesting work to showcase during FLEFF. I contact them, preview their work, and put it together. This year I'm also putting together a screening of work from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Last semester I read an article about curating and I thought it was interesting to read about the “in between space” that occurs when screening films. Can you talk about what your curating process is?
Sometimes there will be pieces that have compositional strategies that resonate, so I'll put those in sequence. Sometimes I make more content driven or thematic decisions. And since a lot of the work is experimental and some of the films are formally challenging so I think about how to place those so that the audience gets the most out of the experience. I usually try to start the show with something that I think that is really, really strong and end it with something that is even stronger, so people go out with a bang.
Are you the one who decides what order the films will be screened and when, or are you the one who seeks out the films themselves?
I'm actually doing both, so I'm seeking out works that are new, or new to the audience and then I'm also putting it together into a flow so the films compliment one another.
Can you tell me about your personal experience with film? Did you study film as an undergraduate student?
I studied film at Boston University when I was in undergrad. While there, I studied American Independent filmmakers like John Cassavetes, Elaine May, Rick Schmidt, and Mark Rappaport. After undergrad, I got my first paid job working on one of Rick Schmidt's films and then started to work in the film industry as a lighting and camera technician in Seattle. While I worked on commercial films for a living, I also attended screenings of independent and experimental work at 911 Media Arts Center and later the Northwest Film Forum. I was interested in filmmaking from a do- it- yourself/ punk- rock perspective which eventually led me to graduate school at the University of Iowa where there was a strong emphasis on experimental and personal documentary. The work I produced there, and since, has screened in independent film festivals across North America and in Europe. After graduating with my MFA, I started teaching film.
How was your teaching experience?
I taught at Emerson College for a few years and then I taught at Ithaca College. It was a real privilege to work with students who are passionate about film and who are trying to find their voices in a technically challenging medium.
What are you doing now?
Last year, I started working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the Multimedia Department which produces films on natural history and conservation.
What does this year's FLEF theme: Dissonance mean to you?
Dissonance is an exciting theme for this year. Independent media is an interesting form of cultural dissonance providing a counterpoint to mainstream media. FLEFF is a great venue for bringing that kind of counterpoint to Ithaca. It allows people to see different points of views and see films that you aren't going to get to see elsewhere.
What are you most looking forward to about FLEFF this year?
I'm looking forward to a week of really exciting films, musical events and terrific speakers.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Blog post written by Amber Thibault, Cinema and Photography ’15, FLEFF Intern, Lewiston, Maine.
This past week, I had the privilege of interviewing Becky Lane. Becky Lane is a part time TVR professor at the Roy H. Park School of Communications. She has submitted two works to next week's March 3rd kick-off event happening THIS SUNDAY at Cinemapolis! The event starts at 4pm and tickets are $8.
Now a little bit from Becky Lane...
Amber Thibault: How did you hear about FLEFF?
Becky Lane: Ithaca is my home so I've followed FLEFF from it's inception. When Karen Rodriguez, the curator of the Upstate Filmmakers Showcase, program invited me to present my work, I was honored. Ithaca College has been an instrumental part of my education as a filmmaker, and I was so excited to become a part of FLEFF and screen alongside the other fantastic pieces.
AT: What is your project that you are presenting at the March 3rd kick-off event?
BL: Well I'm actually presenting two works "Hens and Chicks" and "Happy Hour."
AT: Can you tell me a little bit about those films?
BL: "Hens and Chicks" is a family film about a young girl who is a sperm donor offspring who begins to question who her father is. "Happy Hour" is teaser for a dramatic series I'm working on entitled "The Chanticleer." It's set in 1955 and one of the storylines involves underground gay and lesbian culture.
AT: I know there is going to be a whole collection of different types of works at the event this on March 3rd. Can you tell me about the kind of work you are presenting?
BL: Well, "Hens and Chicks" is a short film while "Happy Hour" is a more of a performance piece with dance and music. It tells a story about how two women make a connection that only they can see, reflecting the invisibility that was required at that time period. The series that follows will have a broader scope, reflecting the cultural and political shifts occurring at that time period, which were significant. The goal is to have distribution with some episodes exclusively made for the web.
AT: What made you interested in doing films like these?
BL: I like to portray strong women characters, families and gender and sexualties that are usually unrepresented, misunderstood, and/or not favorable. In the first film, Hens and Chicks, I wanted to show that there are different types of well-adjusted families. For "Happy Hour" I wanted to highlight the oppression many people faced then [during the mid-twenty century in regard to their sexuality]. in regard to their sexuality]. People are resilient, though, and will find ways to live their lives the way they want. I wanted to honor that. I see these women as courageous and subversive.
Having already been aware of the suppression of women during this time period, I am anxious to see Becky Lane's physical representation of these circumstances. Also, having been involved in theater before coming to college, I can't help but loving the melding of dance and music to create an emotionally charged scene. I hope you all found this interview as intriguing as I did. Please come out and support Becky Lane and all the other filmmakers as we raise money to help Cinemapolis with it's conversion from film to digital.
One final question: What interests YOU most about Becky Lane's projects?
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Blog posting written by Shea Lynch, Documentary Production '13, FLEFF Blogger, Glens Falls, New York
Freshmen year can be scary for anyone entering college and discovering new communities can be tricky. I found FLEFF my first spring semester here and it offered a great community for me. FLEFF has challenged me to become a more creative person and has shaped me into someone who is ready to graduate. I did not expect FLEFF to become such an integral part of my life every spring semester but I'm glad I was able to take part in the journey.
I started blogging freshmen year and never looked back. Blogging is a great way to meet new people and become immersed in the content of FLEFF. Blogging has also allowed me to explore Ithaca College and the city of Ithaca; the people and places are rich with creativity and stories.
Collaborating with Ithaca College professors has exposed me to truly unique projects most others don't get to see. Blogging about their work for FLEFF has been the most enjoyable experience. The mobilization of ideas from teacher to student is seen daily at Ithaca College but working with professors with external projects has fulfilling rewards; a unique look at the behind-the-scenes of creativity.
The Upstate Filmmakers Showcase is drawing near and the rest of the FLEFF blogging team is hard at work interviewing Ithaca College faculty involved with this showcase; one of the best event for bloggers. Curated by Karen Rodriguez, the Upstate Filmmakers Showcase features nine shorts created by professors from Ithaca College and surrounding colleges.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Blog posting written by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio ’14, FLEFF Intern, Ashland, Massachusetts.
Getting excited for the FLEFF March 3rd Kickoff Screening? I know I am! I'm even more excited for the screening after getting the chance to speak with Karen Rodriguez, the curator for this year's screening. Read on to learn about the purpose of the screening, the filmmakers you can expect to meet, and the works you can expect to see!
Chloe Wilson: For those who aren't very familiar with FLEFF, can you give a quick description about what this year's Kickoff Screening is for?
Karen Rodriguez: This screening is for two things. It starts the FLEFF season is comprised of films that have already been screened at FLEFF in the past years and that are made by local filmmakers. The second reason is that it’s a also a fundraiser for Cinemapolis. The theater is in the process of transitioning to digital projection and we’re helping to raise money for them for their purchases of new digital projectors.
CW: Are the filmmakers from the entirety of upstate New York or specifically Ithaca?
KR: Some of them are faculty at IC, some of them are faculty at other colleges in the areas - like Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It’s an opportunity to highlight local filmmakers and to get the FLEFF season off to a start.
CW: As the curator of this year's screening, can you tell me about your role in organizing this event?
KR: As the curator, I look at work and talk to people about what is new, what do they have available to be screened. Then once I have a list of potential films, I try to choose films that work together and that compliment each other as well as show diversity in the subject matter and also in the approach. Then I coordinate information and such – working with the filmmakers and figuring out how to get the files from them to Cinemapolis. I also contacted Leah Shafer and I asked her to moderate the discussion after the screening.
CW: Each year, FLEFF has a new theme, and this year it's mobilities. Does the Kickoff Screening also have a theme?
KR: I didn’t choose a theme for the screening. I think there are some approaches or stylistic approaches that have emerged from this group and I think there’s a strong emphasis on the visual overall, but there is no explicit theme.
CW: What can you tell me about this year's films?
KR: For some of the films, there’s a sense of poetry, like the films are adaptations of poems, but some aren’t adaptations and still have a poetic quality to them. That’s about half the films. The other half are narratives with local actors and stories. I think it’s a strong slate of films. There’s a music video by a local musician – Mary Lorson – directed by a local filmmaker and that’s a lot of fun and the music is great. There’s a piece about post-9/11 America and immigration policy. There’s also a narrative piece about a child and she has two moms and she’s wondering where her Dad is. It’s a really interesting piece, especially since gay marriage has become legal and it’s a question that people will be asking. It’s done in a really positive and thoughtful way.
CW: Is there anything else that you would want a FLEFFer to know about the screening?
KR: I think the screening reflects a lot of diversity that we have in the area and the depth of the talent that we have in the terms in the filmmaking, storytelling, and the acting as well. There’s some terrific acting and filmmakers. It's a great way to start off the FLEFF season.
Are you excited for the Kickoff Screening?