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Past Event

Theorizing Care:
A Humanities Online Reading Course

Session Three|13.04.2023|4-6pm (HKT)



Mette Hjort


Mette Hjort is Professor of Film and Screen Studies and Head of the Lincoln School of Film, Media and Journalism at the University of Lincoln. She is also Chair Professor of Humanities and Dean of Arts at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Affiliate Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, and Visiting Professor of Cultural Industries at the University of South Wales. Mette holds a PhD from the EHESS in Paris and an Honorary Doctorate in Transnational Cinema Studies from the University of Aalborg. She has served on the Board of the Danish Film Institute (appointed by the Danish Ministry of Culture). Mette’s interest in care work relates to talent development in the film industry, to the role of moving images in supporting health and well-being, and to issues of sustainability as these relate to moving image production. Her research on sustainability is informed by fieldwork in West Africa, East Africa, and Palestine.


  • 1. Hjort, M. (2022). The Necessity of Sustainable Filmmaking: Production Notes from Palestine, Burkina Faso, and Zanzibar. In P. Kääpä & H. Vaughan (Eds.), Film and Television Production in the Age of Climate Crisis: Towards A Greener Screen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Further Reading(s):

  • Held, V. (2006). Part 1: Care and Moral Theory. In The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, and Global. Oxford: Oxford University Press on Demand.


<To Care is to Act: Ideas for the Material World>

How do we establish, in practice, a caring relationship with the material world, including the things around us? Yuriko Saito’s ‘Care Relationship and Activities with the Material World’ and Mette Hjort’s ‘The Necessity of Sustainable Filmmaking: Production Notes from Palestine, Burkina Faso, and Zanzibar’2

explore the answers to this question. The two essays have a common emphasis on care as practice and the cultivation of a caring relationship between human beings and material objects.


-A Summary Review by Eric Feng with support from Jose Duke Bagulaya

Reading & Discussion

  • Do you think Saito’s non-ontological approach to things allows us to treat objects with care? 

  • Can you give examples of acts of care to things?

  • In the global South, lack of budget and necessity force independent film producers and filmmakers to recycle and use available sets. Would the availability of funds change this austerity in production?


Feel free to write down any questions or comments regarding the reading materials for Session 3 HERE.


Comment 1: (On Chinese aesthetics and ordinary things )

This care for the inanimate world is deeply rooted in deep ecology. This resonates with a lot of Chinese and Eastern beliefs. I can cite two cheap materials here used by the Chinese literati as examples. One is the literary stone made of cheap limestone. It is just a common rock. The other is qin which uses the pine wood. Their use by the literati added artistic value and it paved the way for an aesthetics of appreciating the cheap and humble material. It also allowed the literati to distinguish themselves from the aristocratic and imperial.

We still have the qin today and we are continuously passing it on to the next generation. It adds value to this cheap material. The literary stone is commonly available. Except during the Northern Song when the material became expensive because of its importation from the north to the south.


Comment 2: (The image and externalities )

One of the interesting things about Disney as a producer is that they are extraordinarily careful about the construction of themes and meanings, because they are thinking of demographics. They have a lot of people who can work on the film for years. I wonder whether this care about the image legitimates externalities? And I wonder if there is a reversal of that situation in cinemas that are not constructed in this way, maybe the balance is different? For example, Marvel cinema. There is nothing that is more carefully constructed than Marvel cinema.



Care in the Context of Film Production Milieux, with special attention given to Climate Change 


Thank you Mette and friends for joining us last Thursday at Theorizing Care Session 3! 

Prof. Mette Hjort started with Yuriko Saito’s ‘call for practice’ of care, then extends this exploration of care acts to film studies and education.  

The reflections on the environmental cost of current practices in film production introduced alternative practices from the global South that facilitate sustainable filmmaking. The inspiring filmmakers in Palestine, Burkina Faso, and Zanzibar, incorporate care for things and nature into the mode of film production as well as film content. 

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