Re-ordering material hierarchies in Jossie Malis Álvarez’s animated short film series, Bendito Machine

A book chapter in Pushing Past the Human in Latin American Cinema, eds. Carolyn Fornoff and Gisela Heffes, SUNY Press, 2021 

This publication was thanks to a very weird and perfect combination of Animation and "Object Oriented Ontology" (OOO).  

While learning more about the history of animation, I started to feel very much that the principles behind animation connected deeply with the notion that objects and nonhumans can act and have agency (depending how you look at it).

According to OOO, this is an ecological breakthrough by stepping outside out human-centered worldviews and considering what sentient and "non"-sentient beings do without us around.

I had come across Jossie Malis Álvarez's work in the past when I was organizing short film festivals, and had always kept an eye on his work which tended to be quirky, humourous, yet deeply ironic and pessimistic about the future.  

When I saw his short film series online, Bendito Machine, I quickly saw how animation can present ecological arguments just as well as live-action films can. Do we need to see the literal wreckage all the time? Can we play out our speculations and the worst-case-scenario through animation?

That's exactly what each episode of Bendito Machine does, and the 6 episodes altogether (from 2006-2020) present cyclical narratives that condense time, space, and cause-and-effect in a way that only cartoons can pull off. 

It's called suspension-of-disbelief, and we all set aside our material logic to ride the magic carpet thanks to animation.

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