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CFP: NESCUS film festival review section

2015 July 29
by smonani

The festival review section of NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies is accepting submissions for the Fall/Winter 2015 issue.  Deadline: 1 September 2015.

NECSUS is an international, double blind peer-reviewed, open-access journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press. The journal is multidisciplinary and strives to bring together the best work in the field of media studies across the humanities and social sciences, publishing research that matters and that improves the understanding of media and culture inside and outside the academic community.

The NECSUS film festival review section publishes critical writing on film festivals. It offers a platform for writing that falls between the fast and prolific genre of individual festival reports and the slow and rigorous labor of film festival research. Rather than merely reviewing the latest festival edition, contributors are asked to take a critical distance and reflect upon one or more thematic issues that are relevant to the professional field and/or for media studies. Reviews can be motivated by current affairs but should also tackle issues that tend to remain hidden in the midst of festival buzz. Contributors should not be employed by the festival they are reviewing.

In addition to reviews of single festivals we encourage reviews covering a range of festivals.  We also feature interviews with festival programmers, directors or critics.

For an overview of previous reviews in the section, check here: http://www.necsus-ejms.org/category/reviews/festivalreviews/

General NECSUS submission guidelines apply.  Additional festival review guidelines:

• Maximum 2,500 words

• Focus on up to 3 film festivals

• Include short introductions of the festivals discussed

• Choose one or more issues/themes to structure your critical review

• Provide URLs of the mentioned festivals

• Include your name and affiliation at the end of the review (no short bios needed)

If you are interested in writing a festival review please contact the section editors Marijke de Valck (marijke.at.filmfestivalresearch.org) and Skadi Loist (skadi.at.filmfestivalresearch.org).

CFP: Green Letters special issue: modern warfare and the environment

2015 July 23
by smonani

Deadline: 500-word abstracts by September 30, 2015; accepted abstracts’ first drafts by 11 April 2016.

A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the

            open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds, and

            beneath those clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was

            the tiny, fragile human body. 

Walter Benjamin, ‘The Storyteller’, Illuminations (London: Fontana Press, 1992), p.84.

 

Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism is the journal of ASLE-UKI (the UK-Ireland branch of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment). It is a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge and supported by Bath Spa University and the University of Worcester. Green Letters explores interdisciplinary interfaces between humans and the natural and built environment. Submissions are now invited for our themed February 2017 issue ‘Modern Warfare and the Environment’ to be edited by Anna Stenning (University of Worcester) and Samantha Walton (Bath Spa University).

 

This timely issue of Green Letters – during the four-year anniversary of the First World War – will address the range of approaches that ecocriticism can bring to examining representations of modern warfare, and how the language of war has been appropriated for ‘environmentalist’ causes. Since the First World War, industrial warfare has harnessed the power of ‘nature’ to create ever-more efficient means of destroying human life, through its use of chemical, biological and nuclear technology. At the same time, it has developed the potential to cause what has been termed ecocide, for example, the long-term impact of herbicides in Vietnam, and the Kuwaiti oil fires.  Conflict in resource-deprived nations can lead to the mass-movement of refugees into environments that may not be able to support them. And yet, it was investigation by the US military – in an attempt to control the environment – that led to the first research into climate change. Climate change itself has been regarded as an issue for ‘national security’, and a war that ‘we are fighting’.

 As in other areas of modern life, in warfare nature has been understood as: ‘either logistical problems to be overcome and defeated or opportunities to be exploited’ (Colonel Richard W. Fisher, ‘The Environment and Military Strategy’ in Air & Space Power Journal (June 2003).  While there is both a lack of international and domestic safeguarding of the environment in wartime, there is a growing realisation that work to protect the environment both during and after wartime increases the prospects for peace (UNEP nd: 2). As climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion increase the potential for global conflict, this special edition asks, how does literature, film, music or art represent the relationship between humans and the environment during wartime? What language, forms, imagery and tropes do authors use to describe the impacts on the environment of war? And, conversely, how do the discourses of ‘war’ and ‘national security’ compare to other ways of framing climate change and environmental crisis?  

 As well as addressing the impacts of war on non-human nature, this issue will consider how ecocriticism may also offer the tools to consider the impact of war on human ecology. How does the virtualisation of war affect humans? How can feminist and ecocritical insights into the relationship between language, discourse, and real world oppression of women and nature be developed to inform understanding of man’s destruction of man in wartime? The experiences of warfare may reveal more about our psychological interdependencies with non-human nature than has hitherto been realised. We are also interested in exploring the materiality of the human body as a site of ecological disruption through the impact of depleted uranium or water scarcity caused by war. Finally, this issue should address how we can reconcile struggles for national security with the evidence of interconnectedness, both ecological and cultural, across the planet.

 Authors are encouraged to consider, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Climate change as a ‘national security’ issue
  • Environmental apocalypse and the language(s) of war
  • Landscapes of war and remembrance
  • Industrialism or technology and warfare
  • Nationalism and nature
  • Environmentalism across national borders
  • The gender of the battlefield
  • Postcolonial warscapes and decolonisation
  • Matter as cultural residue
  • ‘Fighting talk’: the language of war in environmentalism
  • Nature as resource
  • Futures of conflict
  • War and land aesthetics.

 To have a submission considered please send an abstract (approximately 500 words) to both Anna Stenning (anna.stenning.at.gmail.com) and Samantha Walton (s.walton.at.bathspa.ac.uk). The abstract itself should be attached as an anonymous document in Word with a covering email that should give your name, address and institutional affiliation. The deadline for abstracts is 30 September 2015. A decision as to which articles will be commissioned will be made by 30 November 2015. 

 

Online Course for Scholars from the IECA

2015 July 21

Once again this fall, IECA Executive Director Mark S. Meisner will be teaching The IECA’s online course Environmental Communication: Research Into Practice.

If you are interested in learning more about the field or brushing up, please have a look at the details of the course. Here is the brief description.

This course will explore how the most relevant research and theory from fields such as communication, psychology, sociology, and political science can be used to improve the practice of science, sustainability and environmental communication. Participants will get an overview of the field as we will examine how language, images, and media come together in advocacy and social marketing campaigns, and other forms of public participation for environmental protection. We will consider how communication is used to accomplish practical goals, as well as how it affects people’s perceptions of nature and environmental affairs. To do this we will use readings, examples, cases, recorded lectures, discussions, and the insights of leaders in the field. Participants will have the opportunity to work on communication projects that are relevant to their specific interests.

In case you are wondering, this is a full-length course that runs twice a week for 10 weeks.

Registration is limited to about 20 people and it is already one-third full.

 

SCMS Panel CFP: Media, Ecology, and New Materialism

2015 July 17
by smonani

DEADLINE: August 5th, 2015

Over the years, media archeology and new materialism have provided a useful counterbalance to some of the limitations encountered in the textual and cultural studies oriented approaches found in more traditional lines of cinema and media theory. More recently, as a growing body scholarship on media and the environment gets taken up, these archeological and materialist approaches have appealed to ecomedia and environmental humanities scholars as a means of thinking through the sustained ecological impact of media technology on the environment in less representational—and more ontological—terms.

However, at the same time as this blended theoretical approach appears complimentary, certain counterproductive tensions remain. The object-oriented tendencies of new materialism and the techno-centrism of media archeology also frequently subvert certain forms of political engagement within the wider critical spectrum of environmental media studies. For example, while the work of Seigfried Zielinksi and Jussi Parikka seem to offer useful ways of considering the “deep time” of media technology’s impact on environments by showing how geological time scales might be integrated seamlessly within the critical discourse of the anthropocene, these very same archeological and materialist traditions often marginalize the post-human, post-anthropocentric, and feminist critique of scholars like Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti. More generally, the overemphasis on object-oriented ontology within environmental media studies tends to prevent an adequate engagement with critical race and gender studies—as well as structural concerns facing the Global South (including media access, asymmetrical modernization, e-waste and media disposal, and socio-economic risk).

This panel is seeking papers that work through the uptake of archeological and materialist theory within environmental media studies, in relation to film, digital cinema, games, or video.

The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Animal and post-human studies
  • Capitalist excess, speculation, and precarity
  • “Deep time” and expansion of temporal scales (via media geology, the anthropocene, etc.)
  • Digital media, big data
  • Gender and feminisms
  • Globalization and post-colonialism
  • Intersections of ecological and technological networks
  • Management/disavowal of environmental risk
  • Materiality of media (light, petroleum, minerals, etc.)
  • Media ecology and capitalism
  • Media industries and (asymmetrical) modernity
  • Media waste, disposal, and recycling
  • Queer ecologies, ecofeminism, and environmental justice
  • Speculative genres (e.g. science fiction, cli-fi, cybernetics, apocalyptic or disaster narratives)

Please send abstract (max. 300 words) plus bibliography (3-5 entries) and author bio (50-100 words) to Rachel Webb Jekanowski at rachel.jekanowski.at.concordia.ca and Ken Rogers at krogers1.at.yorku.ca by August 5, 2015. Please include “SCMS” in your subject-line.

 

SCMS conference 2016 CFP: Film and Media Festivals Preconstituted Panels and Workshop

2015 July 16
by smonani

Deadline: August 10, 2015

To participate in a presconstituted panel sponsored by the Film and Media Festivals SIG, please submit a summary no longer than 2500 characters, 3-5 bibliographic sources, and an author bio no longer than 500 characters.

Please copy and paste your proposal into the body of the email message (and avoid sending attachments!) and include in the subject heading “Film Festival SCMS paper (or workshop) submission.”

Email your proposal to co-chairs Michael Talbott (michael.talbott. at.castleton.edu) and Tamara Falicov (tfalicov.at.ku.edu) and graduate student representative Antoine Damiens (a_damie.at.live.concordia.ca)

Once we have received your proposals and they have been organized into compelling panels, you will be contacted by your designated panel chair. Only the designated panel chair may submit the final panel/workshop proposal for all its members.

For tips how to prepare and submit a successful proposal or a panel see the SCMS website at http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=call_for_submissions

ASLE Conference Review – Part 3

2015 July 13
by Steve Rust

As a final post in this series of three on the 2015 ASLE conference, Salma Monani and I, would like to share the curatorial blurbs for the inaugural mini film festival we organized along with assistance of the conference organizers and local independent theatre, the Kenworthy in Moscow, ID.  We heard that the event drew more than 150 conference attendees, which we hope will inspire folks to build a similar event for the next ASLE conference in 2017 (location tbd). When possible we will also include embedded video or links to the films we selected.

 

ASLE Film Fest 2015 Program I:

Forest Ecology and Bioregional Identity in Pacific Northwest Film

Curated by Stephen Rust

 

For my part in this first-ever mini film festival program for ASLE, I have selected three films that explore the liminal space of Pacific Northwest forest ecosystems:

Madison McClintock’s 2014 documentary, Fungiphilia Rising

Kurtis Hough’s 2011 experimental film, Mossgrove / Bed of Moss

Vanessa Renwick’s 1998 found footage avant-garde film, Food is a Weapon

 

The Pacific Northwest contains many environments, from the lush Palouse and sparse high desert to mountain meadows, misty beaches, and many more. In selecting these films, I was inspired by Matthew Holtmeier’s notion of “bioregional subjectivity.” In a paper at the 2014 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Seattle, Holtmeier argued:

As a theoretical framework, bioregional thinking has prompted a new way of thinking about the politics of place, apart from the tradition of nation states. Looking to both documentary and fiction film, I argue that these so called Cascadian Films contribute to the production of a Cascadian cultural imaginary through promoting the intersection of Felix Guattari’s three ecologies: social relations, psychology, and the environment. While film and television produced in the Pacific Northwest often places the setting ‘elsewhere’ — such as Battlestar Galactica remaking Vancouver, BC into Caprica City on a distant planet — ‘Cascadian Films’ relish in the real equivalent of their settings by depicting particular landmarks, environments, and people.

Each of the films selected for this program relishes in depicting Northwest forests and their power to shape our regional identity. Though but a scant percentage of our old growth forests remain, their shadows loom over our lives here in the Northwest. With an eye to the theme of this year’s ASLE conference, I have also sought to meditate on the space where topsoil meets and mixes with air and water, that porous, permeable meeting space of mushrooms, slugs, and saplings. Finally, I sought to mix three genres of independent film that speak to the promise of Pacific Northwest film, a largely neglected area of study among scholars.

North of Hollywood, things work a bit differently. Making money and reaching audiences remain a top priority for media producers, but cultivating friendships, reflecting on the climate, and interrogating the area’s historical complexity are just as important to many media producers, both those who have left Hollywood seeking a more relaxed atmosphere and those born and raised in the area. Apart from two books on the Vancouver, BC film industry published around 2000 (Mike Gasher’s Hollywood North and David Spaner’s Dreaming in the Rain), the Northwest has been almost entirely neglected by film and media scholars, a shocking discovery for anyone interested in all the area has to offer. From early films like Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) and blockbusters like Animal House (1978) to more recent independent fare like Mina Shum’s Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity (2002) and Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy & Lucy (2008), the Northwest has made enormous contributions to film and media history and deserves the greater recognition events like this will bring.

 

The Films

Fungiphilia Rising (Madison McClintock, 2014):

An ode to nature’s often forgotten alchemists and their allies, Fungiphilia Rising is an invitation to explore the fascinating world of mushrooms throughout the American West. By attending mushroom forays and fungus festivals, talking to scores of individuals from mycologists to artists, businessmen to locovore chefs, Fungiphilia Rising paints a vivid image of the secret life of mushrooms and its admirers. In addition to revealing the multifaceted role mushrooms play in our culture, the film aims to bring awareness to the important ecological functions they perform in our world’s ecosystems and in human environments. Fungiphilia Rising is a classically structured documentary film combining footage shot on location with ‘talking head’ interviews with folks like mushroom foragers Larry Evans and Jim Stillwell, leading figures in the mycology movement, Cathy Cripps, Peter McCoy and David Rust, and renowned chef Anthony Strong.

Directed by Madison McClintock, the film was produced by her small Bozeman, MT production company Nestbox Collective, a collaborative space for Madison and collaborator Roshan Patel to share stories about the curious ways people connect with their environments. Fungiphilia Rising is currently screening at festivals throughout the U.S. and is featured on National Geographic’s “Short Film Showcase.”

Fungiphilia Rising from Madison MCCLINTOCK on Vimeo

 

Mossgrove / Bed of Moss (Kurtis Hough, 2011):

Lovers of high definition and time lapse experimental documentary films like Microcosmos will feel right at home in Kurtis Hough’s Mossgrove, an audio-visual meditation on the kinetic expressions of slugs. Hough’s cinematography and Rachel Grimes’ lush musical score open up space for the viewer to experience the forest floor’s rich detail. In Bed of Moss the camera shifts from its focus on slugs to the moss itself; opening a doorway of perception into the lines, colors, and shapes of the forest. As ecocinema scholars, we often think about the differences in the way viewers interpret and make use of cinematic texts. For example, experiencing the world of a wordless documentary like Mossgrove / Bed of Moss is an adventure in perception different from that of a classical documentary like Fungiphilia Rising. What do you think of this difference?

Directed by Kurtis Hough, the film was produced by Hough’s Portland, OR studio KH Studios. It has screened at festivals throughout the United States and Canada.

Mossgrove / Bed of Moss from Kurtis Hough on Vimeo.

 

Food is a Weapon (Vanessa Renwick, 1998):

Vanessa Renwick’s description of her short found footage avant garde film helps explain why I selected this film for the denouement of my program:

“Haunting NW logging footage from the 1940’s reveals old growth treasures looted for the war effort. A Eulogy for trees.”

Set to music by Lara Mulvaney, Renwick’s film serves to remind us how the Pacific Northwest soil has been exploited from the beginning of its discovery by Euro-American settlers. Renwick’s terms “haunting,” “looted,” and “Eulogy” indicate her intention with the film. And when you see the size of the trees hauled off by semi-trucks in the film it is easy to understand Renwick’s point. Perhaps the most poignant image in the film, however, is the shot of the young saplings, which are shown off as if to suggest that the soil will continue to give and give for mankind’s benefit. Yet when seen in the context of Renwick’s film, the image resonates with the films’ title to suggest that the saplings are the food of the earth, exploited by humans as a weapon in our war.

Food is a Weapon is comprised of found footage from 1940s documentary films, originally filmed on 16mm and Super-8 and transferred to 16mm. The film is included on Renwick’s DVD, North South East West, a compilation of short films produced over her 30+ year career as an independent filmmaker and artist. Renwick’s work has been featured at numerous museums and galleries across the Northwest.

The film is unavailable online but you can read Renwick’s description and find a link to her DVD of collected films at: http://www.odoka.org/the_work/food_is_a_weapon/

 

Steve’s Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the Northwest Film Center and Portland Ecofilm Festival in Portland, Oregon for suggesting a number of terrific films as I planned this event. Thanks to the University of Idaho for hosting this year’s ASLE conference and the Kenworthy Theatre for hosting this inaugural film festival. Thanks to the Northwest Filmmaker’s Festival and Portland Ecofilm Festival for recommending a number of great films during this process. Thanks also to the ASLE conference planning committee for their help in organizing this event, particularly Anna Banks, Erin James, Jennifer Ladino, Russell Meeuf, Scott Slovic, and ASLE managing director, Amy McIntyre. A special thanks to University of Idaho librarian Rochelle Smith for assisting with purchase of the films and ensuring that they will be archived in the library for future use by students, faculty, and the public.

 

ASLE Film Fest: Program II

Indigenous Ecocinema

Curated by Salma Monani

Indigenous cinema is underground cinema. Termed Fourth Cinema by Maori filmmaker Barry Barclay, it rises to protest representations imposed on indigenous people by mainstream First (Euro-American) Cinema; and it does so, most often from the margins, with minimal budgets and with grassroots chutzpah. What does it mean to resist centuries of hegemonic stereotyping and marginalization? What stories are Fourth Cinema filmmakers telling, and how do they do so in ways that blur indigenous cinema into ecocinema?

This program, put together with the help of many individuals, all interested in cinema’s possibilities, attempts to answer these questions. Constrained by length and time, the program nonetheless showcases some of the astounding diversity in contemporary indigenous film’s eco-imaginaries, bringing together four short pieces by filmmakers with ties to the Northwest. From classic documentary mode, to lyrical cinema, sci-fi fantasy, and animated memoir, the arrangement of the four pieces explores a breadth of genre aesthetics, which together pursue a single narrative thread—that of indigenous survivance* in the framework of cyclic time. Each film joins past to present to future, echoing Nez Perce Hattie Kauffman’s words, “our history is long and is still being written every day.”

To honor the tribes whose ancestral lands we are on, the program begins with the trailer of ná·qc tımíne wısí·x: Of One Heart. Narrated by Hattie Kauffman and including the voices of many of her Nez Perce community, ná·qc tımíne wısí·x’s trailer provides a taste of the 20-minute documentary made as a collaboration between the Nez Perce National Historical Park and North Shore Productions. It grounds the Nimíipuu people (as the Nez Perce call themselves) and their culture in this land, highlighting too how colonial society’s broken treaties attempted to sever the ties. Despite these atrocities of land theft, Kauffman affirms Nimíipuu cultural revival today, “We know our past; we know where we came from.”

In his experimental and lyrical works, Métis artist and filmmaker, Tyler Hagan seeks to uncover his past, to know where he comes from. In the Similkameen is located across the U.S. border in the lands of the Lower Similkameen First Nations Bands. Documenting a peaceful day, In the Similkameen centers both land and church, leaving us to reflect on the invisible violence undergirding the region’s serene beauty, and to wonder at the area’s continuing legacy as contact zone for colonizer and colonized, natures and cultures, and the affect of place. Hagan explains, “While the church and its relationship to its surroundings represent the larger history of conflict between the smǝlqmix people of the syilx (Okanagan) nation and Canadian settlers, In the Similkameen focuses on the visceral impact that it [the church] has as a part of the landscape.”

We encounter what looks like the Northwest landscape only fleetingly on the screens that serve as backdrop to the human exhibits who live in Erin Li’s Kepler X-47. A sci-fi dystopian fantasy set on a distant planet in the future, Kepler X-47 is grounded in Li’s anti-capitalist conceptual exploration of human zoos as allegory for how, as she describes, “most of us accept life as it is, without question, and are willingly chained by the pursuit of a tainted American Dream.” Co-produced by Kaz Kipp (Nez Perce/Umatilla) and screened at festivals such as ImagineNATIVE, it also speaks to the madness of colonial hubris that blatantly exhibited indigenous people, and as allegory of the Indian residential school legacy, which followed in the wake of missionary influence we see reflected in Hagan’s In the Similkameen.

From Kepler X-47’s allusions to the residential school system, we face its explicit mention in Lisa Jackson’s Suckerfish. Animation, childhood photographs, and stylized recreations generate a quirky yet moving portrayal of the director’s relationship with her mother, a woman broken by the Indian residential school system. Suckerfish eschews the sweeping vistas of environment encountered in the earlier films, and concentrates instead on enclosed indoor and urban spaces. Yet, in this redirected focus on the small spaces, including the bodies and identities of herself and her mother, Jackson expresses a grounded eco-materiality in what it means to reclaim her native heritage.

Jackson’s reclamation brings us full circle to ná·qc tımíne wısí·x: Of One Heart’s statements of resilience. In its own chosen way, each film of the program takes us backwards so we might move forward, better equipped to understand not only the deep injustice of colonial legacies but also indigenous survivance. Survivance is a baton these films offer its indigenous and non-indigenous viewers in an age of global environmental crises that often seem all too overwhelming.

*[Survivance is Anishnaabe cultural theorist, Gerald Vizenor’s call to re-think the more passive idea of “survival” as a more active engagement of resistance.]

 

The Films, Filmmaker Bios, and More:

ná·qc tımíne wısí·x: Of One Heart (Trailer). Dir. Rory Banyard. Nez Perce National Historical Park in collaboration with North Shore Productions, 2014. [Duration: 2.19 minutes.]

ná·qc tımíne wısí·x: Of One Heart is a theater film produced for Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spalding, Idaho. North Shore worked with Nez Perce people from three different reservations to craft the film, however; “ná·qc tım̉íne wısí·x” means “of one heart” and the film highlights the core values that are shared by Nez Perce or Nimíipuu everywhere.

By touching lightly on the history for which the Nez Perce are famous, and focusing primarily on Nimíipuu life and culture in the present, the film creates a portrait of a people who are very much future-focused and in control of their destiny. In this way the film is designed to break through stereotypes that may be held, and allow Park visitors to connect to Nimíipuu people and culture as they are today.

ASLE has collaborated with the Nez Perce National Historical Park to organize a conference field trip if you are interested in learning more about the Nimíipuu. You can also learn more about the film, as well as other North Shore productions at their website.

 

In the Similkameen. Dir. Tyler Hagan (Métis). Single Channel 16mm on HD Video; Distributor, VTape. 2013. [Duration 5.39 minutes].

Tyler Hagan is a filmmaker, photographer, and historian based in Vancouver, B.C. whose work engages ideas of landscape, place, and identity. His work has shown at Berlinale, Montreal World Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, as well as online with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and the National Screen Institute of Canada.

Hagan describes his work: “In the Similkameen is originally a single channel video loop that accompanies an exhibition of photographs, and the interactive documentary Similkameen Crossroads, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. However, it can be screened as a stand-alone piece as well.

“It interrogates ideas of landscape and place by placing the viewer in the position to engage with the experience of being. …Set on the Lower Similkameen Indian Reserve lands in the Southern Okanagan, the central conflict of the work subtly exists between the ‘natural’ landscape and ‘man-made’ incursions – namely a turn of the 20th Century missionary chapel, St. Ann’s.   As Upper Similkameen Elder Ramona Allison related to me what her father had told her as a child, ‘We used to pray under the trees. Then the white man came, cut ‘em all down, and now we pray in the trees.’ This perspective reminds us that the dichotomy of ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ is a construct of western thought, and encourages us to think, and experience our world as whole – as an ecosystem. In the Similkameen is the expression of attempting to embody such a perspective. It is an invitation to look, to listen, and to reflect.”

You can learn more about Hagan’s work at his website.

 

Kepler X-47. Director, Erin Li. Producers, Kaz Kipp (Nez Perce/Umatillo), Gregory Chou and Erin Li. Distributor, American Film Institute. 2014. [Duration: 14.48 minutes].

Based in Los Angeles, Kepler X-47’s film crew are at the cutting edge of an up-and-coming film generation. Kepler X-47 has made the film festival circuit and received accolades such as the Best Short Film Nominee at The Geekie Awards and Grand Jury Golden Reel Nominee – Excellence in Short Film at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest. SHOOT named Li as an up-and-coming helmer to watch in their 2015 worldwide search for the next generation of film and commercial directors. Li’s work was also curated for SourceECreative’s The Scout, which showcases unsigned auteurs. Li has directed branded content for General Electric, and her work has been commissioned by Film Independent and featured on Upworthy, Huffington Post, and Voto Latino. Her films have also screened at Slamdance, LACMA Young Directors Night, Los Angeles Film Festival, American Cinematheque, the Academy for Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and been recognized as a Vimeo Staff Pick and Hammer-to-Nail Finalist.

Li describes her inspiration for the film: “The concept behind Kepler X-47 was initially sparked by the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ‘Under the Big Black Sun’ exhibit featuring California art from 1974-1981. In 1978, conceptual artist Lowell Darling ran for governor of California using a tongue-in-cheek campaign. One of Darling’s proposals was to create a ‘Human Zoo’ – all animals would be returned to their original habitats and the government would hire the unemployed, who would wear animal costumes and get paid from the zoo’s proceeds.”

You can sign up to watch KEPLER X-47 here.

 

Suckerfish. Dir. Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe). Distributor, Moving Images Distribution, 2004. [Duration: 8.12 minutes].

Lisa Jackson has been making films since 2000 and has accrued numerous awards for her innovative treatment of indigenous issues. Suckerfish, one of her earlier films, has screened at over 50 film festivals as well as on Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation channels.

soveriegn screensFrom realist documentary (Reservation Soldiers and Hidden Legacies) to ironic biographies (e.g., Suckerfish and Intemperance) and performance-based public announcements (Snare, which was commissioned by ImagineNATIVE as part of the Stolen Sisters program, an initiative to draw attention to violence towards aboriginal women), Jackson continues to experiment with cinema as a medium that uncovers social issues. Of her many different approaches Jackson says there’s one thing that holds them together, “I’ve always been social issues oriented – I think, as I go on, the social issues are there but they’re less literal though maybe more powerful.”

Jackson is part of Canada’s current vanguard of indigenous women filmmakers. You can learn more about her work at her website, and in the scholarly engagements of scholars such as Kristin Dowell’s Sovereign Screens: Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast (2013).

 

Acknowledgments to the Nimíipuu people for hosting us on their ancestral lands. Many thanks also to the all the filmmakers and their distributors for generously agreeing to share their films for this inaugural film festival. Thanks too to the ASLE Executive Council and Idaho site collaborators for including the film festival in the conference agenda, Rochelle Smith at the University of Idaho library for her immense patience with helping procure the films’ screening rights, Dr. Jan Johnson for her invaluable help with contacting local Nez Perce collaborators, the Kenworthy Theater folks, and to Amy McKintyre, ASLE’s Managing Director.

CFP: SFFTV Special Issue on the Mad Max Franchise

2015 July 7
tags: ,
by Carter_Soles

Science Fiction Film and Television<http://liverpool-university-press.myshopify.com/collections/journals/products/science-fiction-film-and-television> seeks submissions for a special issue on the Mad Max franchise.

The original Mad Max (1979) was a hard-edged low-budget exploitation film with sf elements, frantically put together in twelve weeks by a small crew working in and around Melbourne on a $325,000 budget. Its worldwide success led to two incrementally more ambitious sequels that expanded the first film’s dystopian vision significantly: Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) in 1982, and Hollywood behemoth Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. The film trilogy became hugely influential in its depiction of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the sequels in particular establishing a visual style that soon became a default for visual representations of punk dystopias in film, television, comic books, video games, and music videos. At the same time, a wide range of comics, novels and novelizations, and video games expanded the films’ storyworld significantly.

When the fourth film in the franchise was released to much acclaim three decades after the original trilogy ended, it proved to be neither prequel, sequel, nor reboot. Mad Max: Fury Road instead revived the franchise as a variation on established themes, full of references to earlier films, but without a clear chronological relationship to its precursors. The film’s gender politics, ideology, and aesthetics have been widely debated, and new films and transmedia expansions are once again being prepared.

SFFTV<http://liverpool-university-press.myshopify.com/collections/journals/products/science-fiction-film-and-television> invites fresh approaches to Mad Max as a sf entertainment franchise and transnational cultural phenomenon, with possible emphases on:

* politics and ideology
* fossil fuel and peak oil in sf
* post-apocalyptic narratives
* franchising and transmedia world-building
* sequels, spin-offs, and novelizations
* ecological disaster sf
* transnational cinema
* exploitation cinema and cult film
* materiality and sf: film vs. digital cinema
* transnational celebrity: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
* representations of race and ethnicity
* gender politics and queer theory
* sf literature influences
* music video aesthetics
* “the indie blockbuster”: independent cinema in post-classical Hollywood
* representations of children and childhood
* George Miller and auteur theory
* Mad Max and transnational exploitation cinema
* Mad Max 2 and queer theory
* Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and 1980s corporate synergy
* Mad Max: Fury Road and digital cinema

Articles of 6,000-9,000 words should be formatted using MLA style and according to the submission guidelines available on our website. Submissions should be made via our online system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/lup-sfftv. Articles not selected for the special issue will be considered for future issues of SFFTV<http://liverpool-university-press.myshopify.com/collections/journals/products/science-fiction-film-and-television>.
Any questions should be directed to the editors, Dan Hassler-Forest (d.a.hassler-forest@uva.nl), Mark Bould (mark.bould@gmail.com), Sherryl Vint (sherryl.vint@gmail.com), and Gerry Canavan (gerrycanavan@gmail.com).

The deadline for submissions is Feb 1, 2016, with anticipated publication in spring 2017.

“Jungles, Earth, Mines, Ruins” ASLE 2015 Panel Review

2015 July 6
by Carter_Soles

At the ASLE Biennial Conference in Moscow, Idaho this year, I was quite happy to find that I could go from panel session to panel session seeing so many papers on film, visual media, video games, and the like. As Steve’s recent summary post and report on the Ecomedia Interest Group meeting make clear, 2015 was surely a watershed year for ecomedia studies at ASLE. Such exciting times!

China pollution

A still from Under the Dome, Chai Jing’s controversial 2015 documentary which Winnie Yee discussed in her ASLE talk on Chinese ecocritical photography. 

One of the most interesting panels I attended this year was “Jungles, Earth, Mines, Ruins: Representing Asian Environments in Cinema and Visual Media,” chaired by Kiu-wai Chu of the University of Hong Kong. This panel (designated E2 in the Conference Program) took place on Thursday, June 25 from 1:30-3:00pm and consisted of four presentations, discussed individually below.

As Kiu-wai made clear in his opening remarks, the panel’s over-arching goal was to address a gap in current ecomedia studies: discussion of non-Euro-American films and visual media. In an attempt to draw attention to cutting-edge work in Asian ecomedia studies, the “Jungles, Earth, Mines, Ruins” panel looked at the ways documentaries, fiction films, and still photography explore ecocritical themes in the works of key Asian visual media producers.

luguang06

A 2005 photograph by Lu Guang. In her talk, Winnie Yee read Lu’s human subjects’ refusal to face the camera as a decentering of the human presence in Lu’s ecocritical photography. 

The panel’s first presenter, Winnie L.M. Yee (University of Hong Kong), discussed the work of Edward Burtynski and Lu Guang, two significant ecocritical photographers, in “Polluted Landscapes: Photographs of Post-socialist China by Edward Burtynsky and Lu Guang” [note: Winnie changed her title from the one printed in the program]. Her main argument was that Chinese photographer Lu’s work responds to and corrects Burtynski’s by creating images that emphasize the environmental costs of human behavior writ large while decentering individual human presences in the shots. For Winnie, if Burtynski’s work is seen as being an example of the Kantian sublime, Lu’s photographs provide an experience of the ecological uncanny, a more horrifying and less humanistic mode than Burtynski’s (toxic) sublime. Winnie elucidated this argument via some very sharp close readings of Burtynski’s and Lu’s photographs, including Lu’s eco-uncanny shot of sheep and a factory seen below.

CIWEM-13

 

UPDATE 7/7/2015: Winnie has provided the following links to Lu Guang’s works:

Works commissioned by Greenpeace (you shall find the little boy facing away from the camera as the cover of the album)

LuGuang_Polluted Landscape Cover

Works awarded by W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund

Website of Lu Guang

 

Alok Amatya (University of Miami) presented on Indian documentary cinema in “‘The Company has swallowed it': Framing Indigenous Resistance to Corporate Mining in India.” Alok argued that Sanjay Kak’s Red Ant Dream (2013), while an important film for the ways it calls attention to India’s internal struggles over mining, fails to provide an insider perspective on these events and may serve to promote its filmmaker as much as it does the issues it purports to examine. Director Kak stays out of frame in Red Ant Dream, asking questions of his revolutionary peasant subjects from offscreen, yet this erasure of his physical presence from the film conveys the idea that what the viewer sees in Red Ant Dream constitutes neutral, objective reportage that achieves immediacy with its subjects.

SANJAY

Does director Sanjay Kak misrepresent the reality of Maoist and indigenous struggles with mining companies in India when he elides his own presence as interviewer in Red Ant Dream

In his talk, Alok asked: What if the film had been made by one of the actual participants in the Maoist resistance against Indian mining companies? What if Kak had shown himself interviewing participants, thereby “admitting” to his presence as an outsider who shaped viewer responses to events depicted via his interviewing and editing choices?

 

Editors-Pick-Useless

Kiu-wai Chu also questioned the critical impact of what viewers see in Jia Zhangke’s 2007 documentary Wuyong (Useless) in his talk, “Contemplating Soil: A Dialectical Ideological Eco-critique of Jia Zhangke’s Useless.” Deploying Andrew Hageman’s dialectical ideological critique methodology outlined in “Ecocinema and Ideology: Do Ecocritics Dream of a Clockwork Green?” (Ecocinema Theory and Practice, Routledge 2013, pp. 63-86), Kiu-wai analyzed Zhangke’s documentary techniques in order to ask questions about Useless‘ efficacy as (anti-)capitalist critique. Useless documents a project of the same name in which fashion designer Ma Ke buries various garments in soil for two years, then subsequently unearths them and displayis them as a high-end fashion line called “Useless.”

In his presentation Kiu-wai asked: Does Zhangke’s film achieve a critical distance that allows the viewer to seriously question Ma’s activities here? Is Zhangke so intrigued by the details of the fashion project that his film misses a chance to ask hard questions about the deeply problematic process of turning garments worn by the working poor into haute couture? Beyond these troubling questions, Kiu-wai was interested specifically in how immersion in soil created a new form of commodity, adding value, infusing these cast-away garments with new, highly commodifiable properties via their contact with the material reality of dirt. How and why does immersion in dirt connote “authenticity”? What is lost when this material connection to actual soil is packaged and commodified?

Finally, Jeffner Allen (Binghamton University, SUNY) gave an in-depth presentation on the theme of luminosity in the work of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in “Effulgences: Decomposition, Particles in Motion, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Sonic Jungles.” Noting that Apichatpong is best known for his images of non-human animals, plant life, jungles, and the like, she explored the theme of light and effulgence in several of the director’s projects, including Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010). Jeffner’s breadth knowledge of the Thai director’s work was impressive, and her close readings of individual frames from his films was engrossing.

At the end of her talk, Jeffner urged all of us to check out Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s information page on Animate Projects.

uncle-boonmee-3_420

In conclusion, the panel on Asian Ecocinema chaired by Kiu-wai Chu approached this year’s ASLE conference theme of “Notes from Underground” in a particularly material, “grounded” way. The four panelists on “Jungles, Earth, Mines, Ruins: Representing Asian Environments in Cinema and Visual Media” discussed aspects of material culture (smog, pollution, dirt, water, light) as represented, problematized, and/or critically wrestled with in fiction films, documentaries, and still photography from mainland China, Thailand, and India. Beyond that, all four presenters supported their claims with keenly observed and sharply interpreted visual close readings of individual photos and screenshots, displaying a high level of formalist interpretive skill. It was a smart, stimulating, and entertaining panel and I hope we see more panels like this at future ASLE and ecomedia conferences.