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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 Elma Yedda Gonzalez at 6:22AM   |  Add a comment

I watched about a dozen films at the festival last weekend. I know how hard it was to choose which films to watch, so here are my top five in case you missed them:

5. A Touch of Sin by director Jia Zhangke

The film follows four stories of violence and corruption in China. Four characters from different provinces are driven to violence out of frustration with their financial situation. Money is ultimately the root of their problems. The film was inspired by true situations in China.

Watching the film is visceral experience. The director does not hold back on depictions of violence. A man’s head is blown off with a shotgun and a young migrant worker jumps off a balcony to commit suicide. There were several moments I found myself wanting to close my eyes or look away, yet I couldn’t.

Take a look at the trailer and tell me you don’t want to see it.

4. Fire in the Blood by director Dylan Mohan Gray

Fire in the Blood is a documentary narrating the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governmental bodies have blocked access to affordable AIDS treatment to developing regions such as Africa. The documentary uncovers the malice and greed behind the unnecessary deaths of millions of AIDS victims.

The entire time I watched this film, I clenched my fists frustratingly. It chronicles the untold story of government negligence and the blithe disregard for it has for its people.

You need to watch this film so that you never forget millions died unnecessarily, and so you make sure that it never happens again. The film makes it clear the battle is not over and the public needs to continue fighting to gain access to life-saving medicine.

3. The Rocket by director Kim Mordaunt

The fiction film follows the story of a boy doomed with “bad luck” in Laos. His family is forced out of their land to allow for the construction of a dam by an Australian company. The film shows the boy and his family suffer through a calamity-filled journey to find a new home. They often have to face challenges caused by the specter of war, globalization, and capitalism.

The boy's emotional journey captivated FLEFF audiences from beginning to end, and should be part of everyone's DVD collection.  

2. A Will for the Woods by directors Amy Browne, Tony Hale, and Jeremy Kaplan

This documentary chronicles the last days of Clark. Clark has battled lymphoma for years, but his health has taken a turn for the worst, and he faces the need to plan his own funeral. He is determined his last act on earth be something environmentally friendly and therefore decides against a traditional burial for a green burial.

What makes the documentary a must-see is its narrative style. The doc does not beat the viewer over the head with numbers or sit-down interviews. Instead it follows Clark and his story to encourage the audience to reflect on life, death, and the beauty in both.

If you're watching this, don't forget a box of tissues.

1. Who is Dayani Cristal?

This was definitely my favorite film at the festival. It blends narrative components with traditional documentary styles.

An immigrant’s decomposing body is found by U.S. Border  Patrol officers who upon lifting the man’s shirt discover a tattoo of the name “Dayani Cristal” on the chest. The audience embarks on a journey with actor Gael Garcia Bernal to retrace the steps of the Central American immigrant to the United States and find out his true identity.

While the film zeros in on this particular case, it also explores important issues about migration and immigration specifically to the United States. Yet, unlike most other films about migration you may have seen, Garcia Bernal’s expedition along one of the most popular routes north from Latin America gives the audience rare insight from migrant who are also travelling these routes.

Much like A Will for the Woods, this film is an emotional rollercoaster that will have you at the edge of your seat.


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