Anthony Adah

Ecocritical Approaches to Indigenous Films


This project, “Ecocritical Approaches to Indigenous Films” works from the premise that land should be sustained not only for memory, history, and the imagined future, but also, in an intersubjective sense, because it sustains and imagines us as well. Furthermore, there is no doubt that cinema and its modes of signification form an integral part of the discourse that preserves or impedes the land ethic. In this regard, indigenous filmmaking has a central role in keeping alive on-going debates on the land ethic and producing work that at once showcase human creativity and the capacity to instigate policy in the real world. Cinematic representation of land and environment is one of the areas where an Indigenous filmmaking differentiates itself from and re-articulates the themes of their mainstream national cinemas. Although displacement of Indigenous peoples from their lands and inhabited environments have always been framed within the discourse of development economics, the location of self in-place informs the signifying practices of Indigenous films irrespective of the formal (narrative and non-narrative) and stylistic choices adopted. As the world grapples with the realities of environmental crisis and climate change, and the Humanities increasingly look to eco-criticism for explanatory models, it appears that Indigenous cinemas provide unique opportunities to re-examine how cinematic representations of the environment produce different versions of identities and nationhood. This paper, therefore, proceeds with a central question: why and how do Indigenous films animate a land/body relationship as site for articulating, recuperating Indigenous identities while simultaneously contesting the field of their mainstream national cinemas?


Anthony Adah is a Professor of Film Studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead, USA. His teaching and research areas are African cinemas and Indigenous filmmaking in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand. He has published in PostScript, Film Criticism, Intellectbook’s Journal of Media and Cultural Politics and he is currently editing a volume on the Family in African Film and Media.

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