‘Most academic film studies professionals don’t take nature film seriously, either historically or theoretically. Indeed, there are few better indications of the educationally counterproductive gap between the humanities and the sciences’.
Scott MacDonald in Adventures of Perception (2009) p. 156.
Scott MacDonald, a film critic with a special interest in independent filmmakers of place, coined the word ‘ecocinema’ in a 2004 academic ecocriticism journal article (listed below) where he was examining the work of independent filmmakers, such as Andrej Zdravic, James Benning etc. Today, ‘ecocinema’ is employed more widely and is often used to refer to mainstream films with explicit environmental themes.
Recent key texts in Ecocinema
“This book presents an ecophilosophy of cinema: an account of the moving image in relation to the lived ecologies – material, social, and perceptual relations – within which movies are produced, consumed, and incorporated into cultural life. If cinema takes us on mental and emotional journeys, the author argues that those journeys that have reshaped our understanding of ourselves, life, and the Earth and universe.”
Ecocinema Theory and Practice: Edited by Stephen Rust, Salma Monani, Sean Cubit
Published August 25th 2012 by Routledge – 344 pages
“Ecocinema Theory and Practice is the first collection of its kind—an anthology that offers a comprehensive introduction to the rapidly growing field of eco-film criticism, a branch of critical scholarship that investigates cinema’s intersections with environmental understandings. It references seminal readings through cutting edge research and is designed as an introduction to the field as well as a source book. It defines ecocinema studies, sketches its development over the past twenty years, provides theoretical frameworks for moving forward, and presents eloquent examples of the practice of eco-film criticism through essays written by the field’s leading and emerging scholars. From explicitly environmental films such as Werner Herzong’s Grizzly Man and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow to less obvious examples like” Andrej Zdravic’s Riverglass…
Ecocinema Books and Texts
(* notes books that examine experimental cinema)
Note: There is a more comprehensive book/ article list and filmography at the US ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) inspired ecomediastudies.org site
Blewitt, John (2010) Media, ecology & conservation – using the media to protect the world’s wildlife and ecosystems. Schumacher Institute, Green Books.
Bousé, Derek (200). Wildlife Films Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Review of Mitman_Bouse_Ingram.doc
Brereton, Pat (2005) Hollywood Utopia: Ecology in Contemporary American Cinema. Portland, OR: Intellect Ltd.
Cubitt, Sean (2005) Eco Media. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, .
Dobrin, Sidney, I., and Morey, Sean (2009) Ecosee – image, rhetoric, nature. SUNY.
Ingram, David. (2000) Green Screen: Environmentalism and Hollywood Cinema. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press.
Ivakhiv, Adrian (2008) Green Film Criticism and Its Futures paper, and his website Immanence
Lindahl-Elliot, Nils (2006) Mediating Nature provides a history of the present nature of mass mediation. It examines the ways in which a number of discourses, technologies and institutions have historically shaped the current ways of imagining nature in the mass media from a Culture Studies perspective, Routledge. See www.cmcee.org
*MacDonald, Scott (2004)Towards an ecocinema (from the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studes of Literature and Environment (ISLE) , p. 107-32).
*MacDonald, Scott Adventures of Perception (2009). In particular the chapter on Upclose and Political – three short ruminations on nature film.
* MacDonald, Scott (2001) ‘The Garden in the Machine – a field guide to independent films about place is a survey of mostly US experimental filmmakers who concentrate on novel cinematic forms relating to place/landscape
Mitman, Gregg (1999) Reel Nature: : America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Review of Mitman_Bouse_Ingram.doc
*Willoquet-Maricondi, Paula (2011) Framing the World: Explorations in Ecocriticism and Film. An edited collection of essays on film, nature, and environmental justice. University of Virginia Press, August 2011. : in particular the chapter Shifting Paradigms from Environmentalis films to Ecocinema: from Anthropocentrism to Eoccentrism Part 1
*Willoquet-Maricondi, Paula (2005) Through the Glass, clearly RelasePrint Journal, Nov/December,. Release Print: The Magazine of the Film Arts Foundation (www.filmarts.org) (discussion of Andrej Zdravic’s Riverglass film).
Tobias, Ronald, B. (2011) Film and the American moral vision of nature: Theodore Roosevelt to Walt Disney. Michigan State Uni Press.
Eco-Cinema Seminar Bristol 2005
This seminar was organised by the former UK RSA Art & Ecology Programme (2005-10); Andrej Zdravič, a leading independent soundvison filmmaker led some of the discussions and showed some of his work.
Cinema and Climate Change 2009 Programme UCL 2009 This was organised for the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit Dec 2009
Related posts/articles by Cathy Fitzgerald:
American nature film: representations of dominion and imperialism (book review article)
- The ‘taxonomy’ of nature cinema and popularising science
- Framing the World -two timely new books on ecocriticism and film. (ecoartfilm.com)
- New book: Ecocinema Theory and Practice (ecoartfilm.com)
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