Welcome, dear readers, to Issue 109 of the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. True to our spirit, the contributions herein are wide-ranging, sharp and timely, starting with a 16-text dossier (guest-edited by Barbara Creed and Cristóbal Escobar) on cinema and the nonhuman. As Creed and Escobar compellingly write in their introduction, “humankind’s invention of the myth of human superiority, based on the exclusion of other species and their needs … has led to the seemingly insurmountable problems of the 21st century such as global warming, climate change, the explosion of the human population and species extinction. In order to address these issues, it is crucial to re-think all forms of cultural, social and political representation from film to the arts and new media.” The articles and interviews in this dossier attempt to do just that.

An important part of our feature articles is also heavily political. Peter Verstraten studies the critical depiction of Dutch colonialism in the East Indies, a hidden dark past slowly emerging to finally be addressed. Jennifer Lynde Barker studies three animated films (set in Germany, China and on Mars) focused on characters facing the powers that be. Jill Barkman studies the use of silence and sound in Jonathan Glazer’s hypnotic and prescient The Zone of Interest (2023), a timely exploration of complicity in the face of genocide. Dina Iordanova, meanwhile, illuminates a shadow, parallel history of Ukrainian films about World War II, focusing on productions between 1957 and 1973, while long-time independent American filmmaker Jon Jost writes eloquently and sensitively about two overlooked, contemporary Indian films: Riddhi Majumder’s Pariah (2020) and Prabhash Chandra’s I Am Not The River Jhelum (2022).

Elsewhere in our features section, the heterogeneous study of film in all its genres and forms continues. Wheeler Winston Dixon explores the Swedish/Danish film Aniara (2018), a contemplative piece of cinematic sci-fi that asks uncomfortable questions about mortality and our shortcomings as a species. M. Sellers Johnson explores Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups (2015) through the lenses of Jean Epstein’s theory and praxis of photogénie. Aazka K.V. Patel looks at how existential agency in Sarah Polley’s Women Talking (2022) is activated in the wake of trauma, leading to both dialogue and introspection, coalescing in a collective action that sees individual identities as equally important aspects in group solidarity. Alix Beeston and Robert Lloyd take us on a guided tour through haunted ground in Joanna Hogg’s latest, The Eternal Daughter (2022), contemplating the occluded site of Wales, where the film was shot and set. Continuing in the gothic horror tradition, Oliver Parker gives Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt (2011) a reappraisal through the lens of Theodor Adorno’s ‘late style’. 

This issue’s spray of interviews is equally eclectic, celebrating independent women filmmakers from Australia (Marie Craven, Trudy Hellier, Patricia Cornelius and Susie Dee), Argentina (Lola Arias), Mexico (Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero) as well as Tunisia (Meryam Joobeur). There is also a focus on North American male filmmakers, with Susana Bessa’s interview with Canadian ‘new waver’ Kazik Radwanski and Brigitta Wagner’s interview with Nathan Silver, both highly rewarding examples of the long-term interview format. 

Our festival reports take the journal in a new direction, with a host of very talented writers giving earnest, moving and politically urgent accounts of both overhyped A-list and under-recognised festivals from around the world. With one of our editors’ own reflections on Rotterdam hung so starkly against the backdrop of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the role and responsibilities of festivals to screen and stand up for silenced voices were already evidenced, and unmet. By February, when the Berlinale kicked off – and the festival repeatedly showed their contempt for and endorsement of the horrors taking place against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank – pressure from groups like Film Workers For Palestine made it feel impossible that the silence could continue. As the Berlinale doubled down on their position against Palestine, we tripled our coverage of it, bringing you extensive attention to both a host of films and ethics in the industry. Cerise Howard reports on the Teddies, Marco Abel thoroughly examines the role of German films in the program, and Daniel Fairfax gives a compelling and comprehensive account of the festival as a whole. 

Meanwhile, regular contributors Will DiGravio, Maria G. Varenas and Maja Korbecka are back on form discussing the Currents program from the 61st New York Film Festival, liberating documentaries at CPH:DOX and Hainan Island International Film Festival – a festival that Korbecka says is still under construction. Duncan Caillard reports on the radical inclusivity and reciprocity shown through community at the Māoriland Film Festival, and, in a significant first for the journal, Miriam Aitken reports on the emerging Saudi Arabian film scene from the Red Sea Film Festival. 

In our Great Directors series, Sherry Johnson discusses the expansive work of Peter Greenaway, the British director who has pushed the boundaries of cinematic narrative. Controversial and admired in equal doses, Greenaway’s body of work is expansive and builds bridges with other arts such as painting and opera, as Johnson convincingly shows.

Wrapping up with book reviews, Tara Judah listens very closely to Ellen E. Jones’ Screen Deep, a recent book on how audiovisual productions can help fight racism. On the other hand, Pablo Gonçalo studies Shadow Cinema, edited by James Fenwick, Kieran Foster and David Elridge – a volume built on the compelling idea of unmade movies being an integral part of film history that, however, sadly never achieves its promise of a global perspective.

Wherever these reflections may take you next, we hope you enjoy reading.

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