‘Affective’ witnessing and testimony in contemporary environmental cinema

  • Inge Konik, Dr University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: Affect, Emotion, Environmental cinema, Ecological crisis, Climate change, Witnessing, Testimony


This article advances that through incorporating registers of affect, environmental cinema might better approximate its socially and ecologically transformative goals. A film in which this has been attempted is Fisher Stevens’s Before the Flood (2016), and it is contended here that for this reason the film holds promise despite the weakness of some of its proposed solutions to climate deterioration. An analysis of the film is offered, during which certain of Julie Doyle’s, Nathan Farrell’s and Michael Goodman’s reservations about Before the Flood are countered, drawing particularly on Anton Van der Hoven and Jill Arnott’s arguments in favour of affective cinema. Indeed, a pro-affective film-making approach finds theoretical support in the perspectives of materialist ecological feminists and African philosophers on the role of affect and emotion in being fully human. The article concludes that affect should be recuperated and strategically included within cultural products and interactions, particularly if these aim to engender significant socio-cultural change.


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