Special Issue "Socio-Environmental Emergencies and Futuristic Imaginaries in Iberian and Latin American Cinemas and Television"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Film, Television, and Media Studies in the Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2022) | Viewed by 7396

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jorge Mari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Interests: 20th- and 21st-centuries Spanish cultural studies; ecocriticism, ecocinema, environmental humanities; contemporary Spanish cinema and prose fiction; Latin American, U.S. & World Cinemas

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue proposes a conversation on Iberian and Latin American cinemas and TVs as well as on the critical field of Iberian and Latin American film and TV studies in the context of the ongoing socioenvironmental emergency and the global systemic collapse. The purpose is to reflect on whether and how Iberian and Latin American films, filmmakers, critics, and scholars have responded to, reflected on, or represented the socioenvironmental emergency; how they have envisioned the future of their regions, of human civilization, and of the planet; and how they have (or have not) used the medium to teach the public and to promote social–environmental change. A broader discussion is also welcome on the uncertain future of cinema and television themselves as industrial, technological art, and communication forms. Essays on films, TV series, and filmmakers from all nations and languages of the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, and the Caribbean will be considered, as well as on all film and TV genres, including fiction and non-fiction, from sci-fi to horror, action-adventure, disaster, fantasy, and comedy. Substantial interviews with filmmakers are encouraged as well. Potential topics and key terms for the essays may include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Utopias, dystopias, protopias
  • Solar punk, hope punk, ray punk, and other cyber punk subgenres
  • Speculative fiction films
  • Transitions
  • Post-carbon, post-capitalist futures
  • Pedagogy of futuristic cinema and TV
  • Systemic collapse
  • Visions of the apocalypse and post-apocalyptic worlds
  • Futuristic films and the question of spectatorship
  • Food and agriculture in futuristic films
  • Humor and satire in futuristic films
  • Decolonizing the imagination
  • Futuristic films as agents of subversion, resistance, or change
  • Futuristic films as historical films, the future as a mirror of the present
  • The role of technology in futuristic films
  • Techno-optimism
  • Film adaptations of literary works
  • Futuristic films and social-environmental justice
  • Religion, redemption, salvation
  • Sustainable and regenerative futures

Prof. Dr. Jorge Mari
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Decolonizing Brazil through Science Fiction: Bacurau and Brazilian Empowerment
Humanities 2022, 11(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11030063 - 19 May 2022
Viewed by 207
Abstract
The objective of this article is to present an overview of the changes in Brazilian science fiction throughout the past decades, which culminated in the international and national success of the film Bacurau and the emergence of the new subgenres amazofuturismo and sertãopunk [...] Read more.
The objective of this article is to present an overview of the changes in Brazilian science fiction throughout the past decades, which culminated in the international and national success of the film Bacurau and the emergence of the new subgenres amazofuturismo and sertãopunk in continuation of Causo’s tupinipunk. These subgenres are bringing to the plate topics such as nationalism, decolonization, racism, social justice, and globalization, while using pop formulas and, thus, engaging an audience that is finding in those titles an opportunity to address the current political scenario. This paper suggests that Bacurau, amazofuturismo, and sertãopunk are new manifestations that are paving the way for contemporary Brazilian artists, who are seeking to overcome what Rodrigues’ called “the mongrel complex”, by updating certain proposals already made by tupinipunk in the 1990s. As the country celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Modern Art Week, this article proposes that contemporary Brazilian science fiction is echoing contemporary humanities agenda topics, such as decoloniality and politics of recognition, in response to the past four years of Jair Bolsonaro’s government. Full article
Article
Futurism without a Future: Thoughts on The Ministry of Time and Mirage (2015–2018)
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020058 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 462
Abstract
The future is not what it used to be. A new strain of futurism has taken over the stage of global science-fiction: one whose understanding of the future cannot be distinguished from its understanding of the present. Gone are the days when extraterrestrials [...] Read more.
The future is not what it used to be. A new strain of futurism has taken over the stage of global science-fiction: one whose understanding of the future cannot be distinguished from its understanding of the present. Gone are the days when extraterrestrials in shiny, extravagant outfits mastered fascinating technologies that flirted with magic. Characters in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (2015–2020) dress like us, and the dystopian technology they put up with is, for the most part, a technology that has existed for years. Armando Iannucci’s imagining of a space cruise for rich people in Avenue 5 (2020) overlaps with Elon Musk’s actual plans of sending wealthy tourists to the moon, while Albert Robida’s visionary téléphonoscope (1879) amounts to a sad reminder of our everyday Zoom call. Is not the current COVID-19 crisis the blueprint to the ultimate post-apocalyptic script? Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona noted in a recent interview that Steve Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), originally labeled as a sci-fi movie by IMDB, is now a drama according to the same internet portal. Science is not fiction anymore, which means at least two different things: that science has lost the power to convey the kind of awe that may be later turned into fiction, and that fiction seems to be unable to inspire a narrative of scientific or—broadly speaking—human progress. How can we retrieve the emancipatory value of progress in good old futuristic sci-fi when the future coincides with the present? What should cultural production look like to help us imagine an alternative to financial capitalism in the face of the impossibility of utopia? The answer, I will claim, resides in Franco Berardi’s concept of “futurability”. This paper explores the limits of this concept by reading side by side Javier Olivares’ and Pablo Olivares’ The Ministry of Time (2015) and Oriol Paulo’s Mirage (2018). Full article
Article
Future with a Past: Future Scenarios of Development in Yucatan in ¿Qué les pasó a las abejas?
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020055 - 14 Apr 2022
Viewed by 430
Abstract
Since the Green Revolution, the development of agriculture has been measured by the relation between the chemical input (fertilizers and pesticides) and yield. Other factors, such as deforestation, water pollution, biodiversity loss and the loss of human health, were not part of these [...] Read more.
Since the Green Revolution, the development of agriculture has been measured by the relation between the chemical input (fertilizers and pesticides) and yield. Other factors, such as deforestation, water pollution, biodiversity loss and the loss of human health, were not part of these calculations. With the advent of genetically modified monocrops in the 1990s, GM soy in particular, plantations took over larger surfaces of land, accelerating these negative processes on a previously unknown scale. It has become clear that if this type of agriculture persists, toxic plantations will soon consume the planet. One of the phenomena prompting this awareness in different places of the world was the death of bees. ¿Qué les pasó a las abejas?, directed by Adriana Otero and Robín Canul, relates the environmental conflict between GM soy growers in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and Mayan beekeepers. Not long after the arrival of GM soy to Yucatan, the bees began to die. When their honey was rejected by the EU authorities due to contamination with transgenic pollen, Mayan beekeepers realized that not only their bees, but also their water and their bodies were poisoned by GM soy agriculture, while their forests were cut for new plantations. The Maya demanded that the state prohibit the planting of GM soy on their land. ¿Qué les pasó a las abejas? is a character-driven documentary featuring leaders of the Maya beekeepers’ movement, including the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize 2020, Leydy Pech. Maya Land; Listening to the Bees, my own documentary, reflects on the same environmental conflict and asks what the future would look like if bee health was considered a criterion of sustainable development. A vision of an alternative future emerges in both films through a series of interviews with Mayan beekeepers, scientists, and policy makers; bees are healthy, water is clean, and agriculture incorporates a mixture of ancient techniques and cutting-edge technologies that assist humans in rethinking their relationships with land and plants. Full article
Article
Art and Land: Eucalyptus Plantations in Brazilian Documentaries
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020053 - 07 Apr 2022
Viewed by 533
Abstract
In Brazil, since the early 2000s, different documentaries have raised awareness about the problematic issues that tree plantations, especially eucalyptus, provoke, as they are propagated across the country. By means of interviews and a mix of investigative and expository styles, these films address [...] Read more.
In Brazil, since the early 2000s, different documentaries have raised awareness about the problematic issues that tree plantations, especially eucalyptus, provoke, as they are propagated across the country. By means of interviews and a mix of investigative and expository styles, these films address and denounce the controversial role and power of the timber industry. However, in the last few years, other works have approached the relationships between planted forests and local ecosystems, offering an alternative perspective. This essay analyzes two recent films on the issue, the short film Gerais, and the 78 min long Do pó da terra, released in 2015 and 2016, respectively, while looking at another short documentary, Desertos verdes: plantações de eucaliptos, agrotóxicos e água, released in 2017, a straightforward documentary that advocates against eucalyptus plantations, interviews specialists and activists, and shows data that work as a report about the situation. In Gerais and Do pó da terra, forest plantations are not central narratives, rather, the focus is on specific communities and their customs. Through testimonial, observational, and poetic modes, they discuss the challenges faced by local inhabitants as their unique lifestyles and sociocultural expressions are threatened. Thus, this essay explains how, instead of images of destruction and the specificities of eucalyptus environmental effects, these documentaries choose to show the connection of local people and their art with the land, their daily life, and the changes they face. By crucially emphasizing the different timelines in play, that of western modernity, and that of alternative understandings of life–nature, they differ from other approaches towards filming environmental conflict that stress the immediacy of the situation. These two films offer a more intimate perspective of human beings, in interplay with their ecosystem, which allows for reflection on how they cohabitate and look forward. Full article
Article
Arcs of Fire: Pyrophilia in Iracema, O que arde and Huachicolero
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020051 - 07 Apr 2022
Viewed by 466
Abstract
This essay examines three films that express a particular affinity with fire: Ircaema: Uma Transa Amazônica (1974), O que arde (2019) and Huachicolero (2019). While focusing on disparate socio-political settings, all three share an improvised, amateur style, utilizing raw and vulnerable filmmaking, involving [...] Read more.
This essay examines three films that express a particular affinity with fire: Ircaema: Uma Transa Amazônica (1974), O que arde (2019) and Huachicolero (2019). While focusing on disparate socio-political settings, all three share an improvised, amateur style, utilizing raw and vulnerable filmmaking, involving risks for the cast and crew. Each film’s arc of fire has its own tempo unique to a time and a place, constructing an idiosyncratic representation of a novel fire regime, characterizing flames in terms of pattern, frequency and intensity. The protagonists in all three films possess forms of pyrophilia as they negotiate life on the screen burning in front of our eyes. The fires these films show us are the feral spawn of extractive economic practices at the core of modernity: logging, monoculture farming and oil extraction. In this regard, the wildfires analyzed here do not carry out a vital metabolic function for biomes but rather harm or possibly erase ecosystems and the biodiversity they sustain. In turn, such pyrotechnics have enabled different forms of fugitivity, insofar as the protagonists in these films are in flight from their own entanglement within these combustible landscapes. Full article
Article
Vernacular Sustainabilities—Multispecies Stories and Life-Death Entanglements of the Sertão Nordestino in Contemporary Brazilian Futurisms (The Film Bacurau and the Sertãopunk Comic Cangaço Overdrive)
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020050 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 536
Abstract
In northeastern Brazil, a region with extreme droughts and the smallest rainfall index in the whole country, water sources are crucial to ensure the survival of humans and nonhumans in this semi-arid region, known as sertão nordestino. Since the mid-twentieth century, classical [...] Read more.
In northeastern Brazil, a region with extreme droughts and the smallest rainfall index in the whole country, water sources are crucial to ensure the survival of humans and nonhumans in this semi-arid region, known as sertão nordestino. Since the mid-twentieth century, classical cultural expressions focusing on this area have emphasized poverty in a desert of dry vegetation. Unlike romanticized portrayals of the backland in the 1990s, contemporary visual culture resorts to speculative and science fictional elements to reflect on possible futures amidst pressing socio-environmental challenges in the Capitalocene. This article examines how speculative and science-fictional elements in the film Bacurau (2019) by Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho and the sertãopunk comic Cangaço Overdrive (2018) by Zé Wellington and Walter Geovani configure human–nonhuman and life–death entanglements to rearticulate both the representation of these communities as backward or picturesque and their historical de-futuring due to neo-colonialism and extractivism. These Brazilian visual productions problematize the notion of sustainability as a linear progression of human-centric futurity. In a dialogue between feminist posthumanist (Donna Haraway) and decolonial (T. J. Demos) works and the visual productions, I offer the notion of ‘vernacular sustainabilities’ that decenters the human while fashioning new conceptualizations of entangled and diverging futures in the sertão. Full article
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Article
Engaging the Ethics of the Future: The Aftertimes as Emotional, Material and Temporal Accumulation in the Spanish Animation Film Birdboy: The Forgotten Children
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020048 - 27 Mar 2022
Viewed by 487
Abstract
In this essay I analyze the critically acclaimed movie, Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, a dystopic animated film based on the graphic novel Psiconautas. It takes place on an island populated by anthropomorphic animals, most of them young, who live in a [...] Read more.
In this essay I analyze the critically acclaimed movie, Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, a dystopic animated film based on the graphic novel Psiconautas. It takes place on an island populated by anthropomorphic animals, most of them young, who live in a time after an industrial accident destroyed the livelihood of its inhabitants. Birdboy and some of his friends try to escape their reality either by taking drugs or by attempting to abandon the island, but they are hunted by police, by the gang of rats that inhabits the dump, and by their hallucinations. In the end, although they do not achieve their goals, Birdboy and his friend Dinky reunite in an inner paradise. Drawing on various theoretical approaches, such as Hannah Arendt’s notion of new beginnings and Timothy Morton’s sustained project of ecological critique, I study the ways Birdboy represents time and engages with the ethics of the future. Birdboy’s universe is marked by emotional, physical, and temporal accumulation. The interconnection of sentient and non-sentient beings on the island shows the impact of legacies and the difficulty of creating radical new beginnings. Birdboy’s story is ultimately a call for responsibility for the future rooted in the awareness that everything leaves a trace. Full article
Article
NO FUTURE: The Colonial Gaze, Tales of Return in Recent Latin American Film
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020045 - 18 Mar 2022
Viewed by 546
Abstract
The past is certain, the future an illusion. Contemporary films such as Ivy Maraey: land without evil (Juan Carlos Valdivia 2013), Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra 2015), The Fever (Maya Da Rin 2020), and Bacurau are border films, from the genre of [...] Read more.
The past is certain, the future an illusion. Contemporary films such as Ivy Maraey: land without evil (Juan Carlos Valdivia 2013), Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra 2015), The Fever (Maya Da Rin 2020), and Bacurau are border films, from the genre of contact films. They announce how coloniality maintains a grip on frontier territories in the Americas. These films also present particular indigenous visions that challenge western epistemes and confront audiences with particular ways of being in the world, where the modern subject finds its limit. The article introduces a critical perspective on cinema as a colonial tool, producing forms of capture that are part of the modern archive and the notion of linear time. These films also build on cinematic traditions such as tercer cine and afro-futurism, and are strong on concepts such as cosmopolitanism, resistance, and subalternity. They present forms of adaptation, reaction, return, and redemption while maintaining the status of cinema as a capturing device, entertainment, and capital investment (the triad of destruction in modernity/coloniality). Full article
Article
Loss and Life in the Andean Pluriverse: Slow Unravelings and suma qamaña in Óscar Catacora’s Wiñaypacha
Humanities 2022, 11(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11020043 - 16 Mar 2022
Viewed by 653
Abstract
The impulse for development and modernization creates rifts between humans and nonhumans, dragging us deeper into the rhythms of capitalism and urban life. In the Peruvian Andes, this impulse has manifested in an intergenerational trend of rural out-migration that exacerbates the life-making struggles [...] Read more.
The impulse for development and modernization creates rifts between humans and nonhumans, dragging us deeper into the rhythms of capitalism and urban life. In the Peruvian Andes, this impulse has manifested in an intergenerational trend of rural out-migration that exacerbates the life-making struggles faced by those left behind. Óscar Catacora’s film, Wiñaypacha, reflects on these struggles and their impact on the lives of an elderly Aymara couple living isolated in the Peruvian highlands as they await, to no avail, the return of their son. The first section of this article examines how the aesthetics of Wiñaypacha emphasize the social–ecological unravelings that occur between the human and nonhuman beings that together construct the filmed Andean world. Catacora’s film represents migration as a gradual process of abandonment experienced by the Aymara elders that degrades their ability to sustain their lives and the lives of their animals. In the second section, I analyze the way Wiñaypacha makes visible the existence of the Andean pluriverse and worlds that have not disappeared in the wake of development. The film’s representation of time and suma qamaña (harmonious living) represents a departure from the universalizing tendencies of extractive capitalism and exemplifies the existence of alternative life-worlds. Full article
Article
From Utopia to Dystopia: The Demise of the Revolutionary Dream in Futuristic Cuban Cinema
Humanities 2022, 11(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11010001 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 807
Abstract
The armed insurrection that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959 was one of the most influential events of the 20th century. Like the Russian and Mexican revolutions before it, the Cuban revolution set out to bring social justice and prosperity to a [...] Read more.
The armed insurrection that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959 was one of the most influential events of the 20th century. Like the Russian and Mexican revolutions before it, the Cuban revolution set out to bring social justice and prosperity to a country that had suffered the evils of corrupt regimes. A small country thus became the center of world debates about equality, culture, and class struggle, attracting the attention of political leaders not only from Latin America but also from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Its intent to forge a model society has often been described in utopian terms. Writers, artists, and filmmakers turned to utopia as a metaphor to trace the evolution of the arts in the island from the enthusiasm and optimism of the first moments to the dystopian hopelessness and despair of the last decades. Indeed, the Cuban revolution, like so many other social revolutions of the 20th century, became the victim of a whole series of internal and external forces that ended up turning the promised dream into a nightmare tainted by autocratic leadership, repression, and political and economic isolation. Although Cuban literature has extensively addressed these issues since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it is only recently that we can find similar trends in a cinematic output that portrays Cuba as a utopia gone sour. This article examines recent films such as Alejandro Brugués’ Juan de los Muertos (2011), Tomás Piard’s Los desastres de la Guerra (2012), Eduardo del Llano’s Omega 3 (2014), Rafael Ramírez’s Diario de la niebla (2016), Yimit Ramírez’s Gloria eterna (2017), Alejandro Alonso’s El Proyecto (2017), and Miguel Coyula’s Corazón Azul (2021). These films use futuristic imageries to offer a poignant (and often apocalyptic) depiction of the harsh paradoxes of contemporary life in Cuba while reflecting upon the downfall of utopia. Full article
Article
Building Global Indigenous Media Networks: Envisioning Sustainable and Regenerative Futures around Indigenous Peoples’ Meaningful Representation
Humanities 2021, 10(3), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10030104 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 906
Abstract
Asserting the right to meaningful representation, challenging the epistemological and methodological expansion of global corporate capitalism and its impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ territories and cultures, aligns with the implementation of global treaties and conventions that are part of key international laws regarding issues [...] Read more.
Asserting the right to meaningful representation, challenging the epistemological and methodological expansion of global corporate capitalism and its impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ territories and cultures, aligns with the implementation of global treaties and conventions that are part of key international laws regarding issues of climate change, biodiversity conservation, education, global health, human rights, and sustainable development. Indigenous Peoples have been consistently excluded from nation state visions of modernity and development, which continues to limit their full participation in global sustainable development initiatives and their meaningful representation therein. Increasing the visibility of this struggle is imperative for Indigenous Peoples, particularly around the strategic areas in which the implementation of global sustainable development treaties, policies, and goals continues to affect their rights. This article inquires whether Indigenous Peoples’ emancipatory appropriation of media means from a transnational perspective that breaks their regional enclosure can contribute to decolonize the world. More specifically, it questions how a new Indigenous global media network would contribute to decolonize the relations between Indigenous Peoples and nation states. A wider mapping of Indigeneity that decolonizes sustainable development becomes critical in order to formally document the efforts of Indigenous Peoples to reconstruct and restore their epistemic and material relations. This article questions how an Indigenous global media network around new nexus research can benefit Indigenous Peoples, and make visible the incorporation of the recommendations and principles from international law emanated from the self-determined voices of Indigenous leaders, experts, and policy makers to decolonize global sustainable development goals. Full article
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