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Agnieszka Powierska

Agnieszka Powierska

Title: Why do children have to act? A repetitive film motif of children rescuing non-human
animals

Abstract: Many years of experience as the co-author of film education projects enabled me to notice a very often repeated (especially in films of French and American production) motif of saving non-human animals by children. A duckling from “Les Oiseaux de Passage” (2015), lions from “King” (2022) and “Mia et le Lion blanc” (2018), an elephant from “Saving Flora” (2018), a wolf from “Mystère” (2021) or a grouper from “Blueback” (2022) – these are just some of many animal characters which need children’s intervention.

The films use repetitive narrative patterns with a rich tradition (just to recall the 1993 classic “Free Willy”) and yet still find their audience. Young characters embark on a real or metaphorical journey to free their non-human friends and find a safe hideout for them. What do children have to save animals from? Why can they so rarely count on adult support? What practices and institutions are criticized in films’ plots and which are supported? How do images shape young people’s ideas about various species and our relationships with them? Will these stories defend themselves against the ecocritical perspective?

In my paper, I will answer the questions using formal analysis (with an ecocritical approach
and animal studies’ perspective) of the young audience films produced between 2015-2022.

Bio: Agnieszka Powierska – PhD, an academic lecturer, a film educator and a graduate of School
of Ecopoetics. She gained educational experience thanks to cooperation with the National
Museum in Poznań, Ferment Kolektiv, filmwszkole.pl and Multikino cinema chain – as a coauthor of educational projects, videos, e-books, webinars, lesson scripts. Currently, she
conducts lectures at the New Media Department of the State Academy of Applied Sciences in
Włocławek.