Artykuły

"Pleograf. Kwartalnik Akademii Polskiego Filmu" no. 5/2020

 

Three Ecocritical Voices in Polish Women’s Cinema

Magdalena Podsiadło

 

The remarkable increase of interest in the issues of climate, global warming, and looming ecological disaster causes these tropes to drift into the field of art. Even though they are not always explicitly articulated, their presence demonstrates that the symbiotic relations between the human and non-human realms are indeed a concern for artistic practice, too. Films by young and middle-aged female directors — Anna Jadowska, Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, and Jagoda Szelc — produced in the last decade and which take the non-human perspective into account might be evidence of such a movement. If misogyny and radical anthropocentrism have a common root[1], it should come as no surprise that ecological problems are being raised specifically by female directors whose work has already proven their engagement with the feminist perspective, because both feminist and ecological approaches share an opposition towards patriarchal and anthropocentric logic. Although this interpretation would perhaps be the most valid, I will not, however, follow the ecofeminist reading but rather the ecocritical one. This interpretation emphasizes the role played by affect and emotion in the production and reception of films that center natural environments and non-human actors[2]. I would like to apply this perspective to three films that seem to try to explore the subjectivity of non-human actors as well as to critically reflect on what is perceived as human or anthropocentric: Wild Roses (Dzikie róże, 2017) by Anna Jadowska, the short film The Island (Wyspa, 2013) by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, made in cooperation with Dominga Sotomayor, and finally Jagoda Szelc’s Tower. A Bright Day (Wieża. Jasny dzien, 2017). None of these examples are openly activist; nevertheless, attention and sensitivity towards the environment, nature, and even the Earth’s fate were clearly important factors in their making. These films do not abandon the anthropocentric perspective completely, while managing to undermine it and the traditional hierarchies related to it. The environment plays a significant part, being not a mere background or a metaphorical depiction of human actions, but rather becoming an active participant, creating as well as transforming human culture and society[3], a parallel universe with its own developments intertwined with the human world[4].

Wild Roses

Although nature itself[5] in all of the films that I put forward is, of course, metaphorically charged, I would like to focus on the aspects that might fulfill the ecocritical demand for ecological realism, postulating a departure from metaphor. This term was coined by Anna Barcz who, in her work on literary texts, demonstrates their relations to the environments they represent. Ecological realism shifts from anthropomorphizing nature’s meaning to instead focusing on mediation and the exchange between human and natural environments[6] in order to expose the ties between humans and their organic surroundings that have been traditionally obscured by culture. Even though this notion is mediated by text, ecological realism allows to recognise depicted trees as real and non-human protagonists — as animals around us[7]. Anna Jadowska’s Wild Roses admittedly uses nature as a metaphorical vehicle, the film however makes another reading possible — an ecological realist reading.

Wild Roses, dir. Anna Jadowska, 2017, source: FINA

The movie tells the story of a modern Madame Bovary, Ewa, whom we get to know after her return from the hospital, where she had given birth and subsequently given the baby up for adoption because it had been conceived during a brief relationship with a minor. The film suggests from the very beginning that the natural environment is of fundamental significance here. Not only is it prominent in the title, suggesting the protagonist’s psychological maladjustment, but also being a firm element of the diegesis, as Ewa makes a living collecting the eponymous wild roses. This choice of setting is not a coincidence, being based on the director’s childhood memories. I was approaching the Wild Roses script gradually, on different levels. I have always wanted to make a movie that takes place on a wild rose plantation because my hometown was surrounded by them. My ‘internal map’ is based on this vicinity[8] — said Jadowska. However, she didn’t manage to shoot the film in her real-life hometown of Ligota Mała, just outside Oleśnica, as the plantation there, which I used to know so well, dried out completely in the same year we were about to start shooting, so we moved the film crew to a place near Lądek Zdrój. However, while writing the script, in my mind I constantly returned to my hometown with its rose plantation, river, and woods[9].

The setting of Wild Roses is simultaneously symbolically significant as well as real, embedded in a specific place filled with hard work performed by female workers, who pick the rose petals manually. As Jadowska explains: real female workers who were working on the plantation were brought on as movie extras. They pick one kilogram of petals in about ten or fifteen minutes. I was watching their work in awe as they moved smoothly along the rows, gradually filling their baskets with petals[10].

The circumstances in which the film was created are depicted here in such a detailed manner because this relation to reality is precisely what allows one to grasp the interconnection between human and non-human actors as well as the different approach to nature, which ceases to be purely symbolic, becoming the real, specific, material, and non-anthropocentric source of a history that has its own kind of agency at its disposal[11] instead. This duality was already pointed out by Monika Talarczyk interviewing the director: we are not only confronted with the forest on an aesthetic level; for it appears indeed real and fairy-tale-like at the same time[12]. This uncanny simultaneity was already explored in the visual references that inspired Jadowska — namely works by Jitka Hanzlová, a Czech artist whose photographs of the Moravian woods depicted them as both real and magical[13]. As I will argue, nature in Wild Roses actively shapes the story represented in the diegesis, which thus becomes a commentary on the contemporary challenges presented by environmental change.

Rose collecting — being the authentic job the women do — which descended from the real world into the diegesis, is an alternative to planned cultivation and, moreover, locates the protagonists’ actions in the wider context of environmental changes. Timothy Morton, an ecocritical theoretician, juxtaposes this kind of primal hunting–gathering activity with agrologistics[14]. Morton claims that agrologistics was the mode of cultivation and space management upon which the anthropocentric perspective of the universe was founded, creating distinct boundaries between human and non-human. The transition from hunter–gatherer tribes to agrologistics replaced indigenous social relations, split the culture–nature continuum, and strengthened the subsequent dualism. The emergence of private property, which was strongly tied to agricultural developments, led to the exploitation of the soil and animals and resulted in further inequalities, rigid social hierarchy, and widespread adoption of the patriarchal order[15].

What Ewa is instead doing — gathering — is remarkably more egalitarian and representative of a collective phase of exploitation of nature, when humans and non-humans were not yet strictly separated[16]. The protagonist and her children do not create any kind of community with other gatherers[17], nevertheless they feel very comfortable and ‘at home’ among the wild roses. In one scene in the film, Ewa’s disobedient daughter tries to communicate with birds in their own language — as if in contrast to her distant relationship with her father and grandmother.

The world represented by the hunter–gatherer culture and the values of agrologistics are in constant struggle in the movie; for example, Ewa’s husband, associated with the latter formation, is dedicating his entire existence to property. The unfinished house that he has been unsuccessfully trying to build seems like the beginning of a failed colonization attempt, as Andrzej is an economic migrant. Standing in the middle of corn fields and among scattered toys, the house strikes one as a grotesque human endeavour, not at all adequate to the surrounding nature and its soundscape.

While risking criticism for bringing back the essentialist equation of womanhood and nature, Jadowska strives to re-establish a connection to the natural environment that has been broken by damaging human activity. It is not only about the symbolic similarities between nature in full bloom and Ewa’s youth, it’s also about practical communication with the environment that releases the pressure of anthropocentric narcissism and exposes its negatives. In the context of this colonizing greed, Jadowska observes: I think this is where the protagonist’s isolation is coming from, as well as this pursuit to own, possess, leave. It’s not about ‘seeing’ anymore, but ‘buying’ and ‘bringing’ instead[18]. This anti-consumerist sentiment is here presented in the wider frame of the critical perception of changes that have been going on during the anthropocene epoch.

This evaluation is also underlined by the form of the film, which is similar to the aesthetic that Miłosz Stelmach called the peripheral branch of slow cinema. According to the him, examples of this subcategory are the works of Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal[19], Forest (2009) by Piotr Dumała, and the films of Aleksandra Niemczyk. All of the aforementioned movies share the narrative traits of de-dramatization, formal and textual reduction, single-focused anti-psychologism, and the loosening of of spatio-temporal relations based on the logic of cause-and-effect between film events and specific scenes[20]. Jadowska’s pared-down, static film indeed follows the the distinguishing characteristics of ‘slow cinema’, which demands a whole different kind of communication, that is bodily involvement with time[21]. As Marta Stańczyk puts it: slowing down, prolongation, and repetition are the transmitters of boredom, producing an affective sphere of intense cinematic experience[22]. Standing in opposition to perceptual habits, this method of storytelling activates the viewer and makes them more vulnerable to pre-cognitive, embodied, affective experience. The author continues: the extension of the temporal structure is to some degree manipulating the viewer to make them more attentive and engaged with the diegesis through the temporal affect[23]. To state it differently, our involvement in Jadowska’s slow narrative style allows us to affectively and bodily react to the film’s diegesis as well as to produce mimetic compassion for a protagonist consumed by apathy. In her book, Stańczyk concentrates mainly on examples of slow cinema that make it possible to recognise the status of discriminated individuals and communicate their emotional state. Thus, prolongation and static storytelling are mostly evaluated negatively, as a kind of prison of matter, a void, lack, impoverishment, loss of any qualities, banality, dehumanization, or profanation, which all constitute the existential landscape of the alienated protagonists.

It is worth noting, however, that a rather different approach is also possible — one that doesn’t necessarily equate human absence with the void. Slow storytelling is at the same time a striving for reconnection to the world[24], the thorough observation of reality, and the re-establishing of the mundane, the present, and, hence, the renewal of perception itself[25]. The bodily experience of boredom gives viewers a chance to sympathetically react, not to the protagonists this time, but to the world they reside in. The absence or deletion of the human (i.e., by reducing them to wandering figurines, completely subdued by the outside gaze of the camera) might be an anti-colonial gesture, producing an alternative to the agrologistical reality of conquering and mastering represented by Ewa’s husband in Jadowska’s film. This is especially plausible because, as Stańczyk puts it, acceleration is a temporal pathology[26], which suggests that Ewa’s sense of suspension is not entirely negative, as it enables the viewer to distance themselves from the constant speed of consumerism.

Moreover, the bodily experience based on the temporal aspect of the movie is enriched by the unconventional use of sound, which, in slow cinema, ceases altogether — as Miłosz Stelmach claims — to be just an addition, becoming truly crucial[27]. As Wild Roses is almost devoid of any extra-diegetic soundtrack, it is the sounds of nature (the whistle of the wind, the buzzing of insects, birds chirping) that stand out, being equally or even more audible than the human voices. They don’t, however, point to the protagonist’s alienation, on the contrary: they draw us into this reality, thereby making the cinematic experience almost tangible. In fact, sound here is not reduced to an illustrative tool that solely supports the narrative as it traditionally works, but through such accentuation it brings out a sensory level that engages the viewer with the experience of the diegesis just as much as the intellect does. The spectator is no longer a passive recipient of images at the pointed end of the optical pyramid, but rather a bodily being enmeshed acoustically, spatially, and affectively in the filmic texture[28]. For Laura Marks, too, sound is a sense perception that is “closer” to the body than sight. Sound brings us closer to the image, almost close enough to smell[29]. Thus, the film affectively engages the spectator through the narrative techniques of slow cinema as well as the elaborate use of the natural soundscape resonating with the viewer’s own body. Additionally, the new prominence of sound helps to recover the so-called loss of the indexicality of the image, because it makes direct contact with the body and thus acts as a physical link to material reality[30]. The alienation embedded in the notion of representation is being withheld by submersion into reality via its soundscape which is, again, in-line with the framework of ecological realism.

All these techniques make Jadowska’s film a challenge to the cultural hierarchy and anthropocentric perspective. This is clear from the opening sequence, in which the small shape of Ewa is confronted by a dominant, branchy tree — we could interpret this scene as a metaphor of her existential situation; however, it’s worth observing that this also speaks to the film’s strongly affirmative approach to nature, which is not reduced to the background, but is rather an autonomous character with its own subjectivity. This approach is also visible in the shots where Ewa and the other characters appear utterly subordinated to the environment and the gaze that’s pointed at them, as if from the perspective of the surroundings ‘watching’ them. These scenes where the human and non-human are treated with this kind of visual egalitarianism represent the shaken hierarchy of vertical anthropocentric mastery.

The altered hierarchy of agency is also represented in the film’s plot. The forest, the river, and the wild rose plantations are beyond the local community’s jurisdiction, exercising agency and influencing the protagonists’ fate. When Ewa’s two-year-old son goes missing, the search teams are helpless against nature’s independence and the inevitable coming of twilight. Their wandering around the forest, in the fields of wild roses, and in the vicinity of a running stream, frames them as a hunter–gatherer tribe (in this case, Jaś is the object of the hunting) and reconstitutes the former non-anthropocentric order in which nature is beyond human control. Let us clarify that this is not a metaphor of human insignificance; rather, it’s about restoring a proper balance, in which humans are part of a greater ecosystem, governed by rules other than violence and control. This experience allows Ewa to accept her own needs and thus join the spectator of the film, who has already allied themselves with this external, non-human gaze.

The Island

There are some similarities between Jadowska’s picture and the short film The Island by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz and Dominga Sotomayor Castilla — nature plays the main part in both of them, being independent of the human universe and eluding reduction to a metaphor. Another commonality is the extensive use of narrative techniques and aesthetics that stem from slow cinema. In their movie, which Monika Talarczyk has called a posthumanist experimental film[31], Klimkiewicz and Sotomayor tell the story of a family who arrives on the eponymous island, where they talk, eat, and walk, while awaiting the father/husband who, as the audience suspects, died in a car crash in the opening scene. The protagonists’ inhabitation of the island turns out to be more or less inseparable from their destructive activities: they kill insects while frying meat, catch fish, and one of the men hunts rabbits on the neighbouring island, impaling and skinning them on a beach.

La Isla, dir. Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, Dominga Sotomayor, 2013, source: New Europe Film Sales

The intensity of the film is achieved by the static, slow narrative rhythm that makes spectators experience the persistence of the island. There’s also a temporal level at play in the narrative, as there’s a clear tension between the past and the future expressed in the wait for the absent father whose death the family doesn’t know about. In the meantime, the viewers await impatiently for the news to be brought to the protagonists, thus prolongation remains the dominant compositional element, as does the … tension arising from waiting for the events to come[32]. Let us also note that The Island’s narrative circles around the deadly accident which, too, had neither representation nor witness (the viewers included).

The affective reaction to prolongation is made even more complex by the use of formal techniques that are clearly contrary to anthropocentric perceptual habits. The gaze of the camera does not follow the events or the protagonists, nor does it try to resemble the human gaze, thereby making the spectator aware of their limited perspective and their entrapment inside their body. Even though sounds from outside the frame suggest the car crash in the first scene, the camera doesn’t follow the incident — instead focusing on the destruction caused to the woods. In another scene, the camera captures the protagonists on the shore until, in contrast to classical film narrative structures, it leaves them in their search and departs on a ferry to the other side of the river. Imagery devoid of humans suggests the departure from anthropocentric logic and the achievement of a storytelling self-dependence, no longer in thrall to the human perspective.

When discussing her artistic choices, Klimkiewicz points out that the camera wasn't supposed to follow the protagonists, but rather to observe from the perspective of the clouds which had already witnessed the accident: the camera is nature’s eye. In this respect, humans are only a small part in the greater universe[33]. Although some level of anthropomorphization is indeed at play — the clouds which contemplate human loss or the suggestion that the diegesis is presented from the perspective of the dead — Klimkiewicz tries to address the Other, the island, drawing from the postanthropocentric experience of embracing other perspectives and beings as essential to polymorphic reality[34]. The director elaborated on her work saying: to me, this movie is an experiment based on exploring the island’s perspective instead of the human one. I aimed to capture a feeling of anxiety, dread, and helplessness against something that can’t be specified[35]. The landscape is of little metaphorical value in the film of Klimkiewicz and Sotomayor, being oblivious to the protagonists’ emotional states. This, in turn, makes the spectators emotionally identify with the island instead of the dead man or the family awaiting him. All the more so because the film and its narrative techniques — mainly the impression of the protagonists being watched by their surroundings — represent the island as if with some kind of subjectivity. As Monika Talarczyk has noted, Klimkiewicz deconstructs the oppositions founded on anthropocentrism and shifts the film’s gaze to create an impersonal observer lacking the primary anthropocentric focus so common in classical cinema[36]. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the scattered gaze of the island is sometimes, especially in the final sequences, taken over by the dead man, suggesting an animistic view of the world.

Klimkiewicz and Sotomayor do not only accentuate the island’s own subjectivity, but also themselves side with nature. This is visible in the first scene of the car crash, where the main focal point is the devastated portion of the woods, with the motorway roaring in the background. The camera slowly moves away to show the road and a man running towards the accident, which was only audible to the viewer. Besides the scene’s metaphorical tone, corresponding to indifference to human fate, there’s also a relation between the degradation of the forest and the motorway encroaching on the fabric of the forest. The separation between the human and the natural worlds is further emphasized by the details: no cell-phone service, a decaying house overgrown by berries, and the accident itself leaving nature completely indifferent. Just as in Jadowska’s film, the human realm (or, in fact, the patriarchal one, given that the absent husband and father is the reference point of this temporary island community) seems to be clumsy and isolated from the natural world. Human artifacts crumble (such as the father’s family house) and the protagonists wander aimlessly or lose touch with one another. The island, on the other hand, clearly dominates them, as shown by the director through the external, scattered gaze that makes the humans objects, rather than subjects. One of the last scenes shows the protagonists gathering in the safe light, like creatures enclosed in a small home terrarium being looked down upon by the eponymous island.

Tower. A Bright Day

Commenting on the motivations behind her debut film, Jagoda Szelc confessed that she wanted to create a film somehow related to the idea of a ‘minor apocalypse’. A protest song against human narcissism, egoism, and colonial greed[37]. The director takes a clear stand against the attitude of, as she calls them, ‘owners’ in opposition to ‘renters’. The former represents the exploitative, narcissistic approach to the world, manifesting in obsessive control, management, and exploitative use of the surrounding world.

Tower. A Bright Day, dir. Jagoda Szelc, 2017, source: FINA

The traits criticised by Szelc are in accordance with the model proposed by Morton in which humans consented to separation from the non-human in order to gain safety and food. This pattern — although cold and cruelly logical like a computer programme — is as harmful to humans as it is hard to stop, even though it brings the world to the verge of the ecological collapse. Agrologistics is, in fact, an ancestor of Morton’s influential concept of hyperobjects — that is, things that exceed human control and understanding, such as climate change[38].

The film depicts Mula as this kind of possessive personality. She had agreed to adopt the child of her younger sister, Kaja, before Kaja’s mysterious disappearance, only for her to return and darken the atmosphere of the household. The diegesis slowly shifts from excessive control to chaos, from order to disaster. As Łukasz Kaczyński pointed out in an interview with the director: the protagonists move from one system — a city — into another, which they don’t control and which uses coordinates different to, for example, those used by the GPS, which fails them in the woods. Jagoda Szelc answered: the film was supposed to kick off with an image similar to a computer matrix, something industrial and then finish with entering the forest. The camera was supposed to capture the origin and slowly approach the car from a variety of angles. It’s cool you noticed the GPS — not everyone recognises that from the very beginning the protagonists are in a space they can’t really control[39]. The opening sequence thus corresponds to the possessive (or even appropriative) attitude, manifesting in the need to control, and reminds us of its ruthless logic, like a Mortonian computer programme.

To the director, the family crisis was a way to depict the condition of our species: Kaja returns to help her relatives through tough times — indeed there are indications that something bad is happening at the macro-scale. In my film I wanted the micro-scale to correspond to this turbulence at the macro-scale. This is why the main protagonist, Kaja, stepping outside the human domain, seems nothing less than a threat to the stability of the family. In her sister Mula’s house, she immediately becomes excluded: she gets to sleep in the office space on a roll-out bed, she’s forbidden from talking to her daughter without anyone else present, and, moreover, she’s blamed for all the strange incidents — the dog running away or the girl faking an illness. At first, Kaja’s distinct status (not explicitly non-human at this point) is hinted at by her affinity to nature (she can hear the forest sounds differently, she lies around naked in a meadow), and this is confirmed at the end of the film. As it turns out, the protagonist is a liminal being between the living and the dead, stemming from the natural environment rather than from the human community.

Elaborating on the fluidity of the distinction between what is human and what is no longer human, the ecocritic uses the notion of the ‘muselmann’ described by Giorgio Agamben[40] to indicate an analogy between muselmann existence (being systematically excluded from the human domain) and non-human beings (animals and nature). Non-human victims are treated as twinges of guilt that question the identity of humans and their axiological system[41], thus becoming figures with potential for social critique. A similar part in the film is played by Kaja, whose liminality renders irrelevant categories such as dignity, respect for what is human, and what is proper for human beings[42]. She’s demoted in the family hierarchy by being silenced (she’s forbidden from talking to her daughter or other members of the local community outside the family), she’s denied the opportunity to speak about her experience (in one particular scene, we see Kaja screaming silently unbeknownst to her sister, on whom the camera focuses). Because of all the violence, she becomes the non-human who obstinately appears as human; [s]he is the human that cannot be told apart from the inhuman[43]. This constant shifting seems like a negation of the need to control and of clearly specified boundaries — those too which make a distinction between the human and inhuman world possible. Furthermore, if we follow a genre-specific interpretation and recall Barbara Creed’s analysis of horror films, then Kaja might fit into the image of the abject[44], the monstrosity which blurs the distinction between human and non-human, threatening the basis of the social order itself. Contrary to classical horror, though, the spectator in Tower. A Bright Day is not encouraged to cheer for the restitution of the status quo.

Grzegorz Fortuna calls this movie a ‘preapocalyptic horror’, in which the human world is brought to an end as foreshadowed by the menacing presence of the not-entirely-human protagonist. The apocalypse here is not related to a machine uprising, atomic bombs going off, or the ubiquitous radioactive waste — but instead to a return to shamanism, something very primal, mysterious that was suppressed in the universal unconscious…[45]. The primal monstrosity of the protagonist is clearly illustrated when she appears to have a thorough knowledge of medical herbs and poisonous plants and also when she communicates with the natural environment covneyed in the film by the use of odd sounds and unsettling images of trees and landscapes. Moreover, her name is a version of the name Gaia, meaning Mother Earth (with motherhood being a fundamental motive in this film), opposing anthropogenic violence. Even though Szelc’s film is not at all visually explicit in its depiction of apocalypse, it corresponds to ‘dark ecology’, in which non-human subjects bring darkness, anxiety, and depression[46], being spectres of what we can’t yet see but can feel foreshadowing disaster.

The society of control is here confronted with an alternative community of individuals ready to give up their exceptionalism and build closer relations with their natural surroundings. Anna Barcz refers to a notion of a ‘weak subjectivity’ that becomes an image of a different, more egalitarian relationship with nature. In the case of children, it’s a type of subjectivity that tries to make contact with plants, animals, and the natural environment, partly because of an escapism that associates nature with shelter from the adults’ violence or neglect; it is an honest subjectivity that hasn’t embraced hierarchical patterns yet and is still able to appreciate nature’s own subjectivity[47]. This may sound a little idealistic perhaps, but it is well reflected in the films of both Szelc and Jadowska, in which children, the excluded, or the somehow marginalised (those who dwell on the bottom of the anthropocentric social ladder) are, however, also able to question the hierarchy’s existence and legitimacy.

***

It could be argued that none of the three films explore non-human agency sufficiently. After all, Wild Roses uses an anthropocentric perspective, The Island anthropomorphises the nature it depicts, and Tower. A Bright Day focuses on the association of the monstrous feminine with nature. On the other hand, however, it’s difficult to ignore the clear sensitivity to ecology in these examples. The way the films reflect upon power dynamics on the (inter-)personal scale can be extrapolated to the global scale and becomes a model for reflecting on environmental issues. Thanks to the use of a different point of view, we get to experience an external gaze that transforms everything that's not human into a figure with the potential for social critique[48] of anthropocentric domination. These three movies represent the non-human actors differently, but a common trait remains: their presence is an impulse to challenge anthropocentrism as well as other forms of hierarchical violence, such as patriarchy or the impulse to colonise. If the exploitation of the earth can be retraced to the same approach that’s responsible for the marginalization of women and ethnic minorities[49], it should be no wonder, then, that such motives are tackled by the women directors with distinct, critical stances. Additionally, the directors use contemporary tropes in their work, rather than celebrate the past, which is also something characteristic of ecocriticism. History, memory, and trauma erase nature from the discourse, which is also true for cultural texts where issues of the past and of historical identity have always been prioritised. However, it’s worth noting that the use of the non-human perspective is not limited to these directors’ work — in fact, the topic of nature has become increasingly important for other directors, too, including those of an older generation who haven’t previously spoken about nature in their films (e.g. Spoor, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 2017) and newcomers who use the topic in their generational manifestos (as in the case of the Chernobyl disaster in Jakub Pączek’s debut Chain Reaction, 2017). Perhaps, the emergence of these themes heralds a greater change in sensitivity.

 

Translated by Aleksander Kmak

[1] J. Fiedorczuk, Cyborg w ogrodzie. Wprowadzenie do ekokrytyki, Katedra Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Gdańsk 2015, p. 165. [back]

[2] A. Weik von Mossner, Introduction. Ecocritical Film Studies and the Effects of Affect, Emotion, and Cognition, [in:] Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, Ecology, and Film, red. A. Weik von Mossner, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Waterloo 2014, p. 1. [back]

[3] A. Barcz, Realizm ekologiczny. Od ekokrytyki do zookrytyki w literaturze polskiej, Wydawnictwo Śląsk, Katowice 2016, p. 39. [back]

[4] Ibid,160. [back]

[5] I’m using here the distinction suggested by Fiedorczuk, who uses the term Nature with a capital N to signify its metaphysical and eternal character and nature to signify the natural environment (J. Fiedorczuk, op. cit., p. 40). [back]

[6] Ibid, 90. [back]

[7] Ibid, 91. [back]

[8] A. Różdżyńska, Lubię czuć niepokój. Rozmowa z Anną Jadowską, https://zwierciadlo.pl/kultura/film-dzikie-roze-wywiad-z-rezyserka-anna-jadowska [accessed: 28.09.2019]. [back]

[9] K. Armata, Daje się gotowe odpowiedzi, zamiast uczyć myślenia (rozmowa z Anną Jadowską), http://polzartem.pl/rozmowa-z-anna-jadowska/ [accessed: 28.09.2019]. [back]

[10] A. Jadowska, “Gazeta Filmowców”: Tam, gdzie rosną dzikie róże, http://wroclaw.wyborcza.pl/wroclaw/7,35771,22197759,gazeta-filmowcow-tam-gdzie-rosna-dzikie-roze.html [accessed: 28.09.2019]. [back]

[11] A. Barcz, op. cit, p. 196. [back]

[12] M. Talarczyk, Nie jesteśmy bohaterami swoich historii (interview with Anna Jadowska), http://www.akademiapolskiegofilmu.pl/pl/historia-polskiego-filmu/artykuly/nie-jestesmy-bohaterami-swoich-historii-z-anna-jadowska-rozmawia-monika-talarczyk/622 [accessed: 28.09.2019]. [back]

[13] Ibid. [back]

[14] T. Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future and Coexistence, Columbia University Press, New York 2016. [back]

[15] Ibid. [back]

[16] A. Marzec, “Jesteśmy połączonym z sobą światem” – Timothy Morton i widmo innej wspólnoty, “Teksty Drugie” 2018, p. 97. [back]

[17] This experience is brought up by the director herself: The village next to Oleśnica where I spent my childhood used to look very different than it does now. It was really like Bullerbyn, a small community where nobody would ring in advance but would simply come for a visit. Nowadays, relationships have become much more distant. (M. Talarczyk, Nie jesteśmy…, op. cit.). [back]

[18] N. Czarkowska, Wywiad z Anną Jadowską, reżyserką Dzikich róż, http://www.filmfestivalcottbus.de/pl/newsy-pl/wywiad-z-anna-jadowska-rezyserka-dzikich-roz.html [accessed: 28.09.2019]. [back]

[19] Jadowska’s film was compared to the works by the Sasnals by Michał Piepiórka, however the main reason was its similar depiction of motherhood, M. Piepiórka, Dzikie róże, “Kino” 2017, no. 12, p. 86. [back]

[20] M. Stelmach, Polski minimalizm, “Ekrany” 2018, no. 1, p. 67. [back]

[21] M. Stańczyk, Czas w kinie. Doświadczenie temporalne w slow cinema, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków 2019, p. 82. [back]

[22] Ibid, 90. [back]

[23] Ibid. [back]

[24] Ibid, 16. [back]

[25] Ibid, 27. [back]

[26] Ibid, 16. [back]

[27] M. Stelmach, op. cit., p. 70. [back]

[28] T. Elsaesser, M. Hagener, Film Theory. An Introduction Through the Senses, Routledge, New York-London, p. 148. [back]

[29] Laura U. Marks, Touch. Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis-London 2002, p. 117. [back]

[30] T. Elsaesser, M. Hagener, op. cit., p. 165. [back]

[31] M. Talarczyk-Gubała, “Widzę siebie jako część większej całości”. O filmowej twórczości Katarzyny Klimkiewicz, [in:] Kino polskie jako kino transnarodowe, ed. S. Jagielski, M. Podsiadło, Universitas, Kraków 2017, p. 329. [back]

[32] M. Stańczyk, op. cit., p. 28. [back]

[33] K. Klimek, Młodzi zdolni, interview with Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, https://ninateka.pl/film/katarzyna-klimkiewicz-mlodzi-zdolni [accessed: 27.09.2019]. [back]

[34] A. Barcz, op. cit., p. 194. [back]

[35] “Wyspa” Katarzyny Klimkiewicz wygrywa festiwal w Rotterdamie [signed AS], https://kultura.onet.pl/film/wiadomosci/wyspa-katarzyny-klimkiewicz-wygrywa-festiwal-w-rotterdamie/tddypnn, [accessed: 27.09.2019]. [back]

[36] M. Talarczyk-Gubała, op.cit., pp. 330–331. [back]

[37] M. Demski, D. Dróżdż, „Nie mam zamiaru już niczego udawać”. Wywiad z Jagodą Szelc, http://ekrany.org.pl/kino_wspolczesne/nie-mam-zamiaru-juz-niczego-udawac-wywiad-z-jagoda-szelc/ [accessed: 27.09.2019]. [back]

[38] T. Morton, op.cit. [back]

[39] Ł. Kaczyński, Jagoda Szelc: Film to maszynka do pracy na widzu https://przekroj.pl/kultura/jagoda-szelc-film-to-maszynka-do-pracy-na-widzu-lukasz-kacz [accessed: 27.09.2019][back]

[40] A. Barcz, op.cit., pp. 108–112. [back]

[41] Ibid, 105. [back]

[42] Ibid, 111. [back]

[43] G. Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive, Zone Books, New York 1999, p. 81-82. [back]

[44] B. Creed, The Monstrous Feminine. Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, London 1993, pp. 8–15. [back]

[45] G. Fortuna, Wieża. Jasny dzień, “Kino” 2018, no. 3, p. 74. [back]

[46] A. Marzec, op.cit., p. 99. [back]

[47] A. Barcz, op.cit, p. 159. [back]

[48] Ibid, 167. [back]

[49] J. Fiedorczuk, op.cit., p. 94. [back]

 

Three Ecocritical Voices in Polish Women Cinema

Environmental issues are a significant part of film storytelling in Anna Jadowska’s Wild Roses (2017), Jagoda Szelc’s Tower. A Bright Day (2017) and Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s and Dominga Sotomayor Castillos’s The Island (2013). Ecocritical reading of these works that refers e.g. to T. Morton’s agrilogistics or A. Barcz’s ecological realism allows us to point out that even though the films do not reject the anthropocentric perspective, they nevertheless suspend it and subject it to critical consideration. At the same time, thanks to the use of formal devices, the directors of the discussed films try to subjectify the non-human actors, thus placing human characters in a broader context and linking their fates to the changes suffered by the environment, nature and the planet.

Słowa kluczowe: Anna Jadowska, Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, Jagoda Szelc, women's cinema, ecocriticism, ecological realism, agrologistics, slow cinema

Magdalena Podsiadło – graduate of Polish and film studies at the Jagiellonian University; assistant professor at the Department of Film History of the Polish Institute of Audiovisual Arts of the Jagiellonian University. Author of the book Autobiografizm filmowy jako ślad podmiotowej egzystencji [Film Autobiographism as a Trace of Subject Existence] (2013) and co-editor of the books Kino polskie jako kino transnarodowe [Polish cinema as transnational cinema] (2017) and Przygoda kina [The Adventure of Cinema] (2019). She has published in "Kwartalnik Filmowy", "Kultura i Historia" and in collective volumes.

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