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Summer Festival: The Berlinale Forum and Forum Expanded Revisited

Still from the film "Super Natural". A hand holds a dragonfruit cut in half, with some fruit removed to look like a crying face.
Jorge Jácome, SUPER NATURAL © Ukbar Filmes

Most films revolve around humans and explore how they act, think, and feel. In many cases, the technical apparatus equally attempts to cling to the human gaze. Cinema tends towards the anthropocentric. Yet as soon as one recalls recent findings about the relationship between the human and the nonhuman, this sort of anthropocentricism quickly seems outdated. Human interventions into the environment produce irreversible consequences: that’s why the earth is said to have entered a new, human-made era, the Anthropocene. In the face of climate change, the Anthropocene’s most threatening manifestation, one insight becomes unavoidable: the system according to which humans regard everything nonhuman, whether animals, plants, earth, fossil fuels, or minerals, as objects and make use of them without inhibition is reaching a limit. For exploiting nonhuman resources has also led the basis for life to dwindle for humans and nonhumans alike. At the same time, theorists, jurists, biologists, mushroom lovers, and many others are conducting research on new concepts of reciprocal treatment, on forms of recognition and reparation. They explore nonhuman intelligence and forms of communication and organization and consider how people can learn from them.   

Cinema hasn’t remained entirely untouched by this development. Twelve years ago, for example, Le quattro volte by Michelangelo Frammartino showed how the camera can shift its gaze away from people: while the first part of this essay film revolves around an old shepherd, the second follows a baby goat, the third a conifer, and the fourth a piece of firewood destined to become coal. Other filmmakers have taken up a similar thread—Victor Kossakovsky, for example, dedicated Gunda (2020) to a pig’s realm of experience, while Andrea Arnold attempts to capture the perspective of a dairy cow in Cow (2021). The Berlinale Forum and Forum Expanded have also given space to such cinematic attempts to move beyond anthropocentricism. We are presenting a selection of films relevant in this context as part of our summer festival. (Cristina Nord)

Past screenings

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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