Various authors, whether from the perspective of science fiction literature, like Octavia E. Butler, or contemporary feminist theory, like Donna J. Haraway, advocate the need to overcome certain concepts that condition our contemporary understanding of the world, such as the Anthropocene, and to propose other alternatives, like the Chthulucene, in order to rethink a relationship between species that leaves behind the primacy of the human being as the centre and measure of all things and explores the potential of this relationship to generate new ways of life and possible new more sustainable and solidarity worlds for all species that inhabit it, that allow us to survive the current situation of climatic emergency. From Haraway’s notion of “companion species”, this film season wishes to examine how cinema—understood as a popular manifestation of contemporary anxieties—explores the relationship between species and the human being’s relationship with their environs from various optics; some more catastrophic and others more hopeful, in consonance with Haraway’s vision.
The cult film Phase IV, a canonical example of the apocalyptic sci-fi movie, introduces us to a dystopia in which ants develop a group mind and consciousness of their power and take over control of the Erath, forcing human beings to adapt to the new civilization in which both species have to live together. On the other hand, Soylent Green, another classic sci-fi movie, and a visionary example of the destructive effects of climate emergency, takes a look at the capacity of the human being to destroy the environment in which the Earth must survive.
From a less catastrophic, although no less unsettling perspective, Little Joe reflects on the capacity of science to force this collaboration between species through genetic manipulation and how its form of perverting the course of nature means that it does not always serve human purposes in the way it was intended. The purported supremacy of the human species is brought into question when the modified plants overturn the relationship of power and find ways of surviving that make use of the needs of the people who created them.
Meanwhile, The Shape of Water, Border and Gunda offer gazes that anticipate a less-human oriented future with more interspecies collaborations. Gunda borrows the narrative and formal structures of the documentary to follow the daily life of a pig, two cows, and a one-legged chicken, reminding us that we share the world with millions of different species that deserve to be taken into account and appreciated by us within their own environs, with their own everyday routines and with the same compassion with which we observe ourselves. Border takes a look at how we construct a non-human identity in contemporary Finland and how to develop networks and structures for coexistence between two species—humans and trolls—despite their shared disturbing past. Finally, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a melodrama telling the love story between a woman and an amphibian man, opening the door to a relationship between species like those told by Octavia E. Butler in her sci-fi stories. In conclusion, this film season wishes to offer and explore ways in which film imagines us, how it thinks of other species and our relationship with them and thus anticipate the various worlds in which we will have to live.
Curated by Jara Fernández Meneses and Estrella Serrano Tovar.
Jara Fernández Meneses has curated film seasons for institutions like MNCARS and Cruce, and formed part of the programming team for Cineteca for four years and is a former member of the selection committees for the Documenta and Animario international festivals. She has written film reviews for Cahiers du Cinema. España/Caimán. Cuadernos de cine, cultural reviews for Serie B and has taught film classes in Kent and Exeter universities in the UK and at the Carlos III university in Madrid. In her free time, she likes to deejay vinyl records of black music and to play dominoes.
Estrella Serrano Tovar has worked in institutions like MNCARS, AECID and the Cervantes Institute. Naturally curious, she enjoys learning new ways of interacting with culture and art, understanding relationships with neighbouring communities as a key part of her work and trying to connect with people with shared interests to undertake new projects. She is the head of the Education and Activities department at Museo CA2M since 2020.
This film series - understood as a popular manifestation of contemporary anxieties - seeks to explore the relationship between species and the relationship of human beings with their environment from different perspectives; some more catastrophic and others more friendly and hopeful, in tune with Donna J. Haraway's vision.
Still de Little Joe, Jessica Hausner, 2019.