Radical in its statements, even if written in the poetics of postmodernist neologisms, the book “Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene” (2016) by Donna Haraway (American philosopher of science and feminist), calls to “Make Kin Not Babies!”. From the human species’ point of view – a kind that is self-centered, self-satisfied, and blinded by self-agency – this call appears extremely pessimistic. Haraway writes: “I along with others think the Anthropocene is more a boundary event than an epoch, (…) The Anthropocene marks severe discontinuities; what comes after will not be like what came before. I think our job is to make the Anthropocene as short/thin as possible (…).” The kin, a relationship which binds human kind and other species existing on Earth, assumes cohabitation, specific cooperation, and “being together”. However, it is not a utopian vision of harmonious coexistence of humans, animals, and nature. An accelerating climate catastrophe with all its implications, everyday becomes a more and more observable and perceptible fact. Therefore, the endurance of the species is not a constructive project of the future but rather a strategy of facing the present. Haraway writes: “The task is to make kin in lines of inventive connection as a practice of learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present. Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places. (...) In fact, staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings.” A concept behind the presented programme derives from the spirit of the American scholar’s writings but – let’s hope so despite everything – it de-intensifies its pessimistic tone. A multitude of connections and entanglements which are realised, intuitively experienced or longed for by the interspecies kins, constitute a leit-motif of the selected films. Without emphasising post-apocalyptic catastrophism or sentimental escapism, these authors have created condensed worlds of the interspecies’ “here-and-now” that attest to the complexities of such constructed reality. In visually brilliant films Sweet Night, The Whale’s Story, The Monk and the Fish, and The Flower (a side-note: Zdzisław Kudła is an outstanding but frequently overlooked classic-rebel of the so-called Polish School of Animation), the animators focused on “break-through moments”, uplifting of tragic blissful junctures occurring between inter-dependent ones. The Croatian films From Under Which Rock Did They Crawl Out? and The Hunger explore the processes originating from desires and will to survive that lead to interdependency. Watching these films one should also notice their audio qualities. In a Pig’s Eye, Le Meat and The Wildwood Diptych expose a destructive influence of human kind on interspecies relations with the use of oneiric or horror poetics as well as rhetoric of alarmistic “protest animation”. The final film, Migration (Canada), presents post- Capitalocene reality as a transit station for the creatures from outer space, whose destination will never be revealed to us, and who will never learn why did we have to make our epoch “as short/thin as possible.”
Sweet Night / Nuit Chérie, Lia Bertels, Belgium 2019, 13’43’’
All bears are supposed to hibernate. All, except this one with his eyes wide open.
The Whale Story, Tess Martin, USA 2013, 3’34’’
A fisherman experiences a moment of connection with a female humpback whale in the waters off of San Francisco. Is this an example of inter-species communication or a mysterious fluke? This true story is retold in paint on a 16 foot high wall with the help of the passing public in Seattle's Cal Anderson Park.
The Monk and the Fish / Le Moine et le poisson, Michael Dudok De Wit, France 1994, 6’20’’
A monk discovers a fish in a water reservoir near a monastery. He becomes obsessed with the fish and tries everything to catch it. Gradually the story becomes more symbolic.
The Flower, Zdzisław Kudła, Poland 1973, 6’18’’
In the rocky desert, a man grows a flower. He devotes all his efforts to this and as a result, a beautiful flower grows.
From Under Which Rock Did They Crawl Out / Ispod kojeg li su samo kamena ispuzali, Daniel Šuljić, Croatia 2018, 5’30’’
Darkness is coming and soon it will fill the whole room.
Hunger / Lakota, Petra Zlonoga, Croatia 2014, 6’05’’
Everything that is alive is hungry; seed is hungry for light, bird is hungry for flight, man is hungry for the touch of another. The seed of longing grows into what feeds us.
In a Pig’s Eye, Atsushi Wada, Japan 2010, 10’09’’
A huge pig is lying down in front of a family’s house. Everyone knows about the huge pig and the pig knows about the family. But neither knows the other’s thoughts on the matter.
Le Meat, Wolfgang Matzl, Austria 2013, 2’16’’
The phone rings. "Your food is ready, sir."
The Wildwood Diptych, Szymon Ruczyński, Katarzyna Małyszko, Poland 2021, 9’03’’
THE WILDWOOD: DIPTYCH is a tale about an ancient forest told in two different ways – from the perspective of nature and that of a man. The film was inspired by the conflict over one of the most valuable forests in Europe – the Bialowieza Forest.
Migration, Fluorescent Hill (Mark Lomond and Johanne Ste-Marie), Canada 2014, 6’11’’
A vintage nature film follows the migratory pattern of a herd wild creatures. “Migration” follows a large creature that falls from the skies to a small, almost deserted, town. Like he does every year, he roams through the countryside following his animal instincts to take him back home.
Olga Bobrowska is a doctor of Humanities in Arts Studies (she obtained her PhD degree at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow in 2020). Currently she lectures on the subject of animated film history at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw. She is a scholar active in the fields of animation studies, film studies and cultural theory, as well as a film culture activist and curator.
Bobrowska's main fields of interest embrace studies in animation, propaganda, visual discourses of ideological doctrines, problems of politicized representation, theories of narrative, adaptation, feminism and Chinese Studies. Her PhD dissertation is dedicated to the problems of ideological discourses of Chinese animated film, 1957-1989.
She is a festival director and co-founder of the StopTrik International Film Festival (Maribor, Slovenia / Lodz, Poland). She frequently serves as a juror at various festivals (e.g. Cinanima, Espinho, Portugal; Tricky Women/Tricky Realities International Animation Film Festival, Vienna, Austria; Animafest Zagreb World Festival of Animated Film, Zagreb, Croatia; Animateka International Film Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia; and other festivals in Europe, USA and China), and has also served as a member of selection committees (Krakow Film Festival; Etiuda&Anima International Film Festival, Krakow, Poland). She has participated in nearly 20 international academic conferences, authored 10 academic papers published in monographs and journals and over 30 film critiques, and is also a permanent contributor to Zippy Frames, an online magazine dedicated to international art-house animation. She is a co-editor of two collective monograph books, Obsession, Perversion, Rebellion. Twisted Dreams of Central European Animation (2016), and Propaganda, Ideology, Animation. Twisted Dreams of History (2019).