Vegan Cinema: Looking, Eating, Letting Be
Talk by Anat Pick + screening of Wendy and Lucy (English friendly)
Behind and in front of the camera, cinema devours its objects. Since the 1970s, the medium’s predatory tendencies have been highlighted by feminist theorists contesting the “male gaze,” and more recently by the painful revelations of #MeToo. But cinema is not solely a ravenous machine that consumes, digests, and expunges its objects.
In this talk, Anat Pick will argue for cinema’s capacity to both consume and let be what it captures, frames, and records—a mode of looking that refrains from devouring the objects of sight. This non-devouring gaze is conservationist insofar as it acknowledges the autonomous existence of beings and things, and allows them to be. The gaze that “lets be” offers a corrective to the predatory conceptions of cinema, and contributes to an ecocentric theory of film at a time of environmental collapse.
- Anat Pick
- Reader in Film at Queen Mary, University of London. She is the author of Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (2011) and coeditor of Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (2013). She has published widely on the place of creatureliness and vulnerability in animal ethics, and is currently working on a book on the philosopher and mystic Simone Weil and cinema.
Wendy and Lucy
- directed by Kelly Reichardt, USA 2008, 80’
- Compared to Italian neorealistic dramas, Reichardt’s third feature film is, in the words of A. O. Scott – a critic of the New York Times – a "silent harbinger", an indicator of the difficult times to come. In opposition to Hollywood blockbusters, with which world audiences are fed around the world, Reichardt films are portraits of marginalised people, often as a result of events beyond their control. In this formally minimalist drama, the titled heroine, Wendy, travels the United States with her dog, Lucy, in the hope of finding a job in fish processing in Alaska. The sudden breakdown of her car makes the woman’s tragic situation even worse. Touching upon issues of compassion, generosity and poverty, Reichardt’s film raises the question of the limits of help and commitment to other people in difficult times. Reichardt’s first collaboration with Michelle Williams enabled the actress to expand her acting expression, and Williams let the director confirm her directorial artistry in creating an underrated genre – a realistic drama.