Cinema Chloroplast is a collection of short experimental films that aims to celebrate plants and their complex relationships with the environment, including humans -but not exclusively.
The mainstream film industry has often portrayed plants as either evil, poisonous, or simply objects of romantic fantasy. This limited perspective fails to appreciate the active and sentient nature of plants. However, there is a more positive tradition of plant representation in film, dating back to the early days of cinema. The use of time-lapse technology for instance, allowed scientists to observe the intricate movements of plants, despite their apparent stillness. And if you’re willing to look beneath the surface, you will find films that celebrate the beauty and complexity of plants, showcased in Cinema Chloroplast.
Watching these films will allow us to momentarily experience a vegetal state together with the plants. Just as plants absorb light, we will absorb the light of the screen, and for a brief moment, we share in the wonder of photosynthesis in a cinema space.
Cinema Chloroplast is curated by Geo Barcan a Romanian visual artist, writer and film programmer based in Rotterdam.
by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
2013, Puerto Rico, 6 mins, silent
Farmacopeas are catalogs of plants and their uses. Farmacopea is a film on the relationship between historical processes and the natural landscape of Puerto Rico. Hippomane mancinella, the little apple of death, is one of the most toxic plants in the world. Just sitting beneath it for an afternoon can make you sick for days. If the tree is burned, its smoke can be dangerous and cause permanent blindness. Though it was an important part of the native farmacopea, most Manchineel trees were erradicated.
Journey to a land otherwise known
by Laura Huertas Millan
2011, France, 23 mins, French with English subtitles
A documentary fiction inspired on the colonial accounts of the natural and ethnographic explorations in America by conquistadors, missionaries, and scientists. Shot in the Tropical Greenhouse of Lille, France, the film uses both the architecture and the plants of this enclosed botanic garden as narrative supports. Led by the voice-over of an explorer, the film explores the notion of exoticism, evokes the violent origins of the so- called «New World» and the endurance of the imagery they engendered.
by Ellie Kyungran Heo
2020, South Korea, UK, Netherlands , 9 mins, English with English subtitles
An English-style garden, a plot of earth in New York’s Central Park, a garden and a cemetery in Maastricht: Plantarians asks, ‘what does it mean to have a garden?’. Divided into episodes, the film studies the capacity of garden plants to respond to the particularities of their surroundings; at the same time, it tracks the lives of the contemporary men and women who cultivate, enjoy, eat, obsess over, and even grieve with and for these plants.
Wasteland No. 3: Moons, Sons
by Jodie Mack
2012, US, 5 mins, English
“A world tender and unhatched,
Future chaos in repose, in slumber.
Batter in a bowl.
A living wreath.
Oleander hyacinth blow away dandelion, particles of an interplanetary lullaby.
Dedicated to the one I love.” – JM
Adeline For Leaves
by Jessica Sarah Rinland
2014, UK, 13 mins , English
Nature, science and mythology are explored through the eyes of an eleven-year-old botanical prodigy.
On a bare rock by the ocean you will never hear anything but birds whose cries blend with the sound of wind
by Sol Archer
2022, Netherlands, 16 mins, no dialogue
The tropical greenhouse is the pinnacle of the construction of nature as spectacle, a montage of discontinuous seasons, climates, and ecosystems, narrating ecological travelogues for the spectator passing through the hard cut of the glass door.
De Luce 1: Vegetare
by Janis Crystal Lipzin
2009, USA, 4 mins, no dialogue
Unfamiliar color and light sweep into and literally illuminate vegetative subjects to supply visible evidence of a surreptitious conspiracy between the artist, her materials, and photochemical occurrences. This is an artisanal hand-made work shot entirely on super-8mm film and handprocessed by the filmmaker. –JCL