Introducing: Anthrocine

by Jasper Schotte

Anthrocine is the film club of the anthropology department -for students, and organised by students and faculty members. 

An important film or documentary is screened each month, with a panel discussion and Q&A afterwards. Everyone who wants to enjoy a good film and widen their perspective is welcome!

On June 24, Anthrocine showed with great success the documentary White Cube in VU Rialto for the last screening of the academic year 2021-2022. 

In the documentary, director Renzo Martens addresses the horrible living conditions of Congolese plantation labourers working for Unilever. A history of violence and cultural appropriation intertwines with the story of the Congolese working class. Together with the workers, they decide to create art in an attempt to improve their conditions and eventually establish a museum. White Cube is both hopeful and painful to watch, with Renzo Martens putting his finger on the sore spots without letting go. It makes you think about the real price that we pay for cheap products and how we can do better.

We greeted our guests with a little goodie bag containing some snacks before the documentary began. After the film, we were delighted to have a panel discussion with Angela Bartholomew, Luisa Schneider and Quinsy Gario. Each with their own expertise related to the film, the members created a better understanding of the themes that the documentary touches on.

A selection of the thought-provoking questions asked to the panel are:  

  • How is the filmmaker playing with the meaning of art in this film?
  • What forms of criticism is the filmmaker projecting in the documentary from an artistic perspective?
  • What kind of ethical questions are implied in Renzo’s criticism of systemic inequality? 

Guests from the audience also asked pertinent questions and contributed to an open plenary discussion. The discussion was tied together under the excellent guidance of anthropology student Salma Bel Lahdab.

It was great to see that the cinemagoers came together after the film in Bar Boele to continue the discussion while enjoying a drink.

We hope to see you sometime next year!

Jasper Schotte is a bachelor’s student in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, currently in his first year.

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