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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 Thomas Ball at 2:23PM
Thomas Ball

Blog Posting written by Thomas Ball, Cinema and Photography 18’, FLEFF Blogging Intern, Shelton, CT

FLEFF’s slogan is simple: “a different environment”.

This tag line describes the experience of entering the festival space. One might translate this slogan as “get lost”.

Some first-time festival goers may feel overwhelmed. I know that at my first FLEFF, I was in fact, just that: overwhelmed

If a feeling of being overwhelmed about the vastness of the festival experience resonates with you, then the directors and executive producers behind FLEFF have accomplished their goal.

When I wrote my first blog for FLEFF back in 2016, I held two beliefs. First, that had a firm grasp on the film industry. And second, that I possessed skills as a writer.

Looking back, my inexperience shows. Clunky, awkward sentences crowded my paragraphs.. The personal stories I shared evidence my naivety about larger social issues.
FLEFF blogging reframed my pre-existing interests into a more global context.

Before my first FLEFF, the interests I held in filmmakers focused on individual auteurs. While I do not renounce individual voices and talents, the FLEFF experience introduced me to the importance of art collectives and collaborations.

The Engage Media group, for example, provides a platform for reporting about social change in the South Asian Pacific.

In my first experience at FLEFF I also learned about independent distributors and their role in the festival world.

Dgenerate Films distributes media from mainland China that reveal the truth about living within Chinese society. Often the Chinese government denies these films proper distribution, virtually banning them from playing in theaters or on television.

In the two years since my last experience as a FLEFF blogger, I did two internships with production and distribution companies. I worked with the Lonely Seal company in conjunction with the Cannes Film Festival, and then with Revelations Entertainment in Los Angeles. More than credentials, these experiences show how FLEFF inspired me to travel beyond my comfort zones.

This year’s theme of geographies describes space and distance. But it also explores who has the power to move across those distances and who controls that power. In this context, I must address the ways I personally benefit from nationalism and xenophobia in the United States.

As a white American male, I have the means and the privilege to participate in a market film festival in a foreign country. Yet refugees and immigrants looking to enter the US to escape conflicts my country created encounter denial of entry and continued animus from the United States government.

A single blog post from an undergrad blogger will not solve these issues or even begin to unpack them. However, because FLEFF serves as a nodal point on the global festival circuit, it enacts an environment to discuss and debate these issues.

Festival spaces should entangle those who enter it. Our comfort dissolves in the broader geopolitical climate dissolve.

I cannot think of a place I would rather go.

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