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November 20, 2014
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FLEFF guests to discuss ideological dissonance

This week, scholars, filmmakers, musicians and activists from around the world will gather in Ithaca to discuss dissonance, the concept of disharmony, at the 17th annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

FLEFF will run from March 31 to April 6, and will include more than 100 film screenings and workshops on the Ithaca College campus and at Cinemapolis. This year will be the 10th year that FLEFF has taken place on campus.

Events include film screenings, guest speakers and workshops. On-campus events are free and open to the public, while student passes, which are good for five screenings at Cinemapolis, can be purchased for $20 at ithaca.edu/fleff or at the Bookstore.

Each year, FLEFF has a theme meant to create discussions throughout the festival. This year’s theme of dissonance focuses on the idea of clashing ideologies. Thomas Shevory, co-director of FLEFF and professor of politics, said dissonance embodies the issues of environmental, social, political and economic conflict on which FLEFF focuses.

“Dissonance is about clash, tension, disharmony, restlessness and contradiction, and the creativity that flows from that,” Shevory said. “A lot of the ideas in FLEFF are dissonant ideas about sustainability, environmental issues, politics, human rights, which involve issues of conflict, so dissonance seems like it fits with the kinds of things we program into the festival.”

Patricia Zimmerman, FLEFF co-director and professor of media arts, sciences and studies, said dissonance is a theme that can be applied to most issues in the world.

“Dissonance defines our current moment,” Zimmerman said. “To move through and to understand dissonance is to have a clearer map of the world.”

Shevory said the theme also fits with the festival, because dissonance is a musical term for disharmony, and FLEFF includes music elements. The festival will include several music performances, including the American Dissonances Concert at 8:15 p.m. April 1 in the Hockett Recital Hall in the James J. Whalen Center for Music. Shevory said the concert will include music from various periods of American history.

Zimmerman said the organizers of the festival chose this theme because it involves the combination of different social and political ideas, which are ideal for creating debates and discussions.

“Festivals should never program to have an idea resolved and explained,” Zimmerman said. “Festivals take ideas and issues and debates that are unresolved in society and they explore them.”

Among the guest speakers include Irina Aristarkhova, associate professor of history of art and women’s studies at the University of Michigan. Aristarkhova will discuss Pussy Riot, the Sochi Olympics and anti-gay politics in Russia, in a discussion titled “Okruzenie,” at 4:20 p.m. April 5 at Cinemapolis.

Senior Kayla Reopelle, an intern with FLEFF, said this event will be popular because many students at the college are concerned with human rights in Russia.

“So many classes right now have been discussing these topics, and so many student organizations have been interested in how Pussy Riot and gay rights in Russia function,” Reopelle said. “I think that will be a great forum for discussion, because Dr. Aristarkhova’s focus of the lecture seems to be to inspire more discussion of these issues.”

In addition to film screenings and guest speakers, the festival will include events with a less formal atmosphere. Festivalgoers will be able to talk with guest speakers including Andrew Lowenthal, executive director and co-founder of EngageMedia, and Jonathan Miller, writer and reporter for NPR, at “FLEFF Lab Friday,” from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Park Hall in the Roy H. Park Hall.

Sophomore Kimberly Capehart, a FLEFF intern, said events like “FLEFF Lab Friday” provide students with a chance to converse casually with the festival’s guests.

“All the filmmakers and distributors and producers all just sit and talk about their experience in a very frank way,” Capehart said. “They’re not really there to impress anyone, but there’s very practical advice for students.”

Zimmerman said the objective of the festival is to facilitate learning through discussion. Reopelle said she got involved with FLEFF because dissonance creates strong learning opportunities.

“The clashes of ideas and internal discomfort has really interested me,” Reopelle said. “I’ve tried to put myself in situations where I have that sort of internal discomfort, because you learn more coming out of it.”

For additional information and a full schedule of events go to ithaca.edu/fleff/films2014/