Report by Jezrel Kate Maquiling

In collaboration with the XU Department of English Language and Literature (DELL) and the Xavier English Language and Literature Organization (XELLO), AB Literature students under Dr Arlene Yandug's class held an ecocriticism film festival titled, “A Talk With Nature,” at the XU Little Theater last month.

Featuring “The Lorax,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Wall-E,” and “Okja,” the film festival aimed to explore the elements of nature through an ecocritical lens.

Members of the XU community and students from other schools around Cagayan de Oro City attended the film fest.

The first day of the event started with XU DELL faculty member Carthelyn Adajar’s remarks, followed by the ecocriticism students’ multi-modal reading of the poems “Ashfall” by Conchitina Cruz and “Blueberry Girl” by Neil Gaiman.

After each movie, students presented an ecocritical analysis and perspective to the audience. Presenter Carlos Fortich expounded on the importance of trees and plants. The Lorax’s main protagonist, a twelve-year-old boy lives in a place where no plants could be found and everything around them was made artificially. To win the heart of his lady-love, he embarked on a journey to find a tree and plant it to realize her dream to see a Truffula tree. And in the process, he learned the importance of trees.

The second film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is a documentary which presents the causes of the waste crisis, global warming, and other environmental problems. Orrin Barba explained the anthropocentric mindset, that is the idea that humans are the most important facts in the universe, and that nature is there primarily at humanity’s disposal, but we have to be responsible in taking care of this creation.

For the second day, the animated film “WALL-E” shows rampant consumerism and environmental neglect that resulted in a dystopian world where humans had no choice but to migrate to another planet. Despite the negative portrayal of humans, the film gives hope and redemption as the film ends with humanity relearning how to plant, fish, and be humane again. Andre Arana shared that there is hope for humans to change for the good.

The last film, "Okja," was about a young Korean girl and her father who were tasked by a private company to raise a genetically modified pig. The film portrayed examples of animal abuse by the antagonists in the film. In Ginina Talja’s presentation, she analyzed and identified the characters in relation to ecocriticism. The main character, Mija, who at some point in the movie was saved by Okja the pig also saved Okja after the company came to take her back. Mija fought and took Okja back. According to Talja, humanity thinks that people are superior to animals. But in the movie, the protagonist and the pig shared food, bed, and home; in other words, they treated each other as "equals."

The film festival concluded with a message from DELL chairperson Dr Lilia Cotejar. She emphasized the need for us to be conscious of our ecological footprints.

“A Talk With Nature” formed part of Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts’ Panaghugpong 11, a celebration of the National Arts Month.∎.


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