Berkeley Film & Media Seminar

Galt lobster image

Guest Lecturer: Rosalind Galt

Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 1:00 am to 3:00 am

142 Dwinelle Hall

The animal logic of contemporary Greek cinema

Non-human animals play an insistent role in recent Greek cinema, from the pet bird whose food the starving music teacher eats in The Boy Eating the Bird’s Food (Lygizos, 2012) to the wild creatures from nature television copied by the protagonists of Attenberg (Tsangari, 2010). This attention to animals culminates in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015), which presents a wry version of the post-human in which those who fail to maintain properly normative sexual relations are turned into animals. Animals make power visible in these films, and yet, as with much in the new Greek cinema, their representation seems to refer elsewhere; to human worlds of economic and sexual politics. Much discussion of the so-called ‘Weird Wave’ centers on its putative relationship to the Greek debt crisis. Looking beyond the narrow terms of that debate, we can locate the new Greek art cinema in a transnational context of political aesthetics in the context of global crisis and precarity. The turn to animals in Greek cinema speaks to the status of the human and the non-human and questions the potential for subjectivity and collective life. This paper considers the relationships among non-human animals, cinematic form, and European geopolitics in recent Greek cinema, considering animality as a disciplinary discourse that intersects with the films’ critiques of sexual and familial norms, systems of violenced sociality, and the crises of sovereignty that have emerged across Europe in the 2000s.

Rosalind Galt is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image (Columbia UP, 2011) and The New European Cinema: Redrawing the Map (Columbia UP, 2006), coeditor of Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories (OUP, 2010), and coauthor with Karl Schoonover of Queer Cinema in the World (Duke UP, in press). Her current research areas include perverse spectatorship, contemporary European cinema, and the cat video.