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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 Edward Willshire at 2:48PM
Edward Willshire

Blog post written by Edward Willshire, Philosophy, '19, FLEFF Intern, South Orange, New Jersey.

With FLEFF 2019 in my rearview, I’ve begun to think back on the disruptive week that it was. I’ve already written about some of the events that stuck with me, and the highly disruptive illness that put me almost out of commission. So, with this final blog, I believe it is most fitting to follow in the festival tradition of sharing takeaways that was taught to the blogging team by Dr. Patricia Zimmermann, FLEFF co-director.

This tradition was a big part of the FLEFF masterclasses. They allowed festival guests to have instant feedback from their fellow discussants and they were also an opportunity to share gratitude.

I am incredibly grateful to have been able to take part in FLEFF 2019 so directly, and I hope this sharing of two major takeaways can show that gratitude as well as illustrate the kinds of valuable lessons that can be learned from FLEFF.

  1. Come for the films, stay for the discussions.

One major part of film festivals is, of course, the films. However, as I have learned from my experience at FLEFF 2019, they are only really a jumping off point.

Whether intentional or unintentional, there was not a single screening at FLEFF 2019 that didn’t push on an idea, identity, or question.

The films of Pawel Wojtasik explored questions and fears that the filmmaker has had, and in sitting in on the post-screening Q&A, it was clear that those fears were held or understood by the audience as well.

The after parties that were held in the second half of FLEFF week at Red’s were hubs for the ideas at FLEFF. After long days of screenings and Q&As, attendees, guests, and programmers all gathered together to bounce their thoughts and feelings off one another. The amount of time simply spent talking about each film far out-weighed the amount of time I was actually watching films.

This may not have been what I expected from a film festival, but I have now learned first-hand that it is far more often the norm.

  1. Artists are accessible.

The most exhilarating part of FLEFF was how close I was able to get to each filmmaker and artist.

Typically, when one sees a film at a multi-plex, or even an arthouse theater like Cinemapolis, the filmmaker is no more present than in the film itself and the credits scroll after. The privilege of attending a film festival is that when you attend a screening of the work of the great visual artist Philip Mallory Jones, he is in the room. Not only is he in the room, he is engaged with the audience and often sitting amongst them.

I had this experience with most of the screenings I attended. So often the artists would try their best not to stand out, and when they did, they showed great humility. I could tell I was almost embarrassing him when I approached Pawel Wojtasik to say what an honor it was to meet him. After interviewing him and getting a taste for his experimental and highly poetic works, it was difficult to imagine him simply being the friendly, approachable man that he was. I far more expected meeting someone who was ethereal and atop a figurative pedestal. While I was in no way underwhelmed, I was also completely surprised to be met by someone so down-to-earth and easy to talk to.


Now that FLEFF is over, and my blogging journey is ending, I realize now more than ever how valuable this event is. As my fellow bloggers can attest to in many of their reflections on FLEFF, this was a week and a semester I will never forget.

I had many more takeaways than just the two I wrote about here. I hope that I can return to FLEFF in a year, with the perspective of an all-new theme, and gain even more insight and understanding of ideas and ideologies.

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