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Call For Papers Nº 20 (Spring 2023) - Cinema’s Natures: Comparative Approaches to Ecocinema

Film scholars are today well aware of cinema’s multiple connections to the so-called “natural” world. From the very beginning, the medium’s technical affordances allowed it to draw attention to the hitherto unseen aspects of our environments, showing us in close-up and time lapse the minutiae of animal and plant life – what Siegfried Kracauer famously called the “reality of another dimension” (1997). More fundamentally, cinema’s longstanding dependence on a congeries of natural resources – silver, petroleum, gelatine – and the effects on screen of its inescapable “hydrocarbon imagination” (Bozak 2011), situate it both with and against the world it depicts.

Given cinema’s unique representational capacities, over the last century the same environments have afforded cinema a collection of vastly different images. The sea, for instance, has gifted us the pioneering representations of underwater fauna in the films of Jean Painlevé; the ethical compromises of Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle’s Palme d’Or winning Le Monde du Silence (1955); and the disorienting GoPro footage of marine life in Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 2012).

If nature has long presented a challenge, a resource, and a backdrop to filmmakers of all stripes, then film studies scholarship is only beginning to reckon with its sheer multiplicity as reflected in film history. The last decade especially has witnessed a flourishing of writing with an ecological bent, and has seen the rise of the field now known as ‘ecocinema.’ A number of collections (Willoquet-Maricondi 2010; Rust, Monani and Cubitt 2013) saw the coming together of ecocriticism and film studies over a decade ago, but scholars including Adrian Ivakhiv (2013); Kristi McKim (2013), Adam O’Brien (2016; 2017) and Jennifer Fay (2018) have since made exciting advances in other directions.

There is indeed already a vast proliferation of approaches to cinema in connection with nature, but recent developments – such as attention to the implications for particular national cinemas (Past 2019) – suggest that ecocinema as a field still holds many unexplored possibilities. As such, the 20th issue of Comparative Cinema is capacious in its focus, inviting contributors to consider novel ways of addressing cinema in connection with all manner of non-human environments and perspectives. Articles should employ a comparative methodology, and topics may include, but are not limited to:

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