This article examines two Chinese sci-fi blockbusters, Crazy Alien and The Wandering Earth, under a theoretical framework of global governance and its variation in Chinese state rhetoric. The article explores how the notion of global governance in China is echoed, reconfigured, and mediated in these two films via their depiction of China’s leadership in solving fictionalized futuristic global challenges. It argues that while Crazy Alien criticizes the present, neoliberal global governance, The Wandering Earth envisages a new global governance system led by China. These two films provide case studies of sci-fi blockbusters produced in a non-Western context and illustrate the convergence of Chinese politics with its sci-fi film production.
The ocean, for Jean Epstein, figures the disruption that the cinematograph offers for human perception, presenting a nonhuman view on the world. This article will critically engage with Epstein’s writings on water to reflect on Mati Diop’s Atlantics (2019) and its particular conception of the oceanic. Atlantics positions the ocean within the perspectives of its filmic subjects but also in excess of them. This perspectival nature of the oceanic speaks to a liminal space between male and female, living and dead, human and nonhuman, which mirrors contemporary debates within Black studies around the exclusion of Blackness from the normative category of the human: the contingency of the definition of humanity based on racial exclusion. As a result, it is not only the nonhuman perspective that the ocean provides in Atlantics, but a spectral haunting of those deemed other than human by global capitalism, which disrupts, as a queer prophecy, the veneer of necessity that the neocolonial order requires to sustain itself.
Adapted from philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s semi-autobiographical text, The Intruder remains one of French director Claire Denis’ most transnational and yet dreamlike works. In this article, I pair philosopher Gaston Bachelard (in particular, his concept of the material and dynamic imagination and his reveries on water and air) with Denis to explore how The Intruder enacts an imagining of the elements and an elemental poetics of film form. Bringing Bachelard into a dialogue with Saad Chakali’s, Rosalind Galt’s and Nancy’s writing on the film’s imagery, I also approach The Intruder as an image-poem that is structured by poetically ‘weighted’ images and by recurrent symbolism. Shot through with an oneiric sense of drift, voyaging and diffusion, I explore some of the ways that Denis’s elemental imaginings of air and oceanic water reflect an affective politics.
This article explores the recording by documentary film of the imperceptible longue-durée of tectonic processes alongside the radical eventhood of volcanic eruption. Through an analysis of Romanian filmmaker Diana Vidrașcu’s Volcano: What Does a Lake Dream? (2019), I re-animate Gilles Deleuze’s discussion of islands to explore the temporal, philosophical, and mediatic implications of volcanic eruption, island formation, and the volcanic archive. I argue that in the film’s effort to reassert human memories of the tectonic alongside those of the landscape, it performs an incomplete reconciliation of the coeval processes and materialities of human and nonhuman, refusing to silence the human histories and archival excesses that are subsumed by narratives that emphasise the longue-durée of geological time.
Recent environmental turns in research on the Holocaust and the moving images produced in its aftermath have suggested the potential of earth to bear “eco-witness” to atrocity and signal sites of mass burial through alterations to the topsoil and vegetation. However, the conjunction between the elemental and the human that occurs when a violated body decomposes in the earth to become ‘humus’ indicates a particularly distressing point of “trouble” for non-anthropocentric frameworks that focus on the material agencies involved in composting processes (Haraway) and trans-corporealities (Alaimo). This article examines how three documentaries (Shtetl, Neighbours and Birthplace) frame sections of Polish earth that have been re-shaped by Holocaust atrocity and human decomposition. While indicating a vaster posthumous network in which humus becomes entangled in rural soil-based activities such as cattle grazing, the article argues that human decomposition triggers attempts to cinematically recompose active earth as readable archive and fixed landscape.
In this article, I argue that recent Black American narratives on Netflix intersect with and can be understood through principles of world cinema. Black American narratives have long existed outside of the Hollywood conventions that often serve as a line of demarcation in world cinema scholarship. Building on Lúcia Nagib’s definition of world cinema () and her concept of realistic modes of production (2020a/2020b), I show how contemporary Black American narratives on Netflix are sustaining a diasporic perspective. Although originating in the US, its marginalized production and preoccupations with colonial dynamics or racial and geographical inequality help to regard this content as a mode of world cinema. Moreover, as In Our Mothers’ Gardens () and High on the Hog () demonstrate, these connections with world cinema have been intensified by Netflix’s production model.
An in-depth discussion with French-Egyptian filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri on her working methods and practices, which are informed by the “south as a state of mind” and driven by the motivation to give voice to the people who are marginalized by dominant media and discourses of power. By shedding light onto the ways in which she navigates through audiovisual archives to structure her politically charged documentaries, she reveals the potential of liminal images to narrate history from unprecedented angles, thus reinforcing collective memory and solidarity.
This article discusses the concept of worlding in the cinema of Małgorzata Szumowska. Informed by philosophical theory of worlding and worldliness, by thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Gayatri Spivak, and the film theory of cinematic worlds, proposed by Daniel Yacavone, the project examines the function of cinematic world building and its potential connection to World Cinema and feminist filmmaking. Close analysis of Szumowska’s film The Other Lamb (2019) traces the role of monstration and mise en scène in creating emancipatory cinema.