Imperfect Machines: Screening Bodies, Illness, and Disability

Friday February 12th, 2016 2:30 PM | Communications 130  (Studio A)

CDAR and the Science and Justice Research Center co-present an afternoon-long screening and discussion event exploring themes of critical disability and representations of illness onscreen as well as intersections between physical and national bodies. 

Screening followed by discussion with filmmakers Emily Cohen Ibañez (Assistant Director, UCSC Science and Justice Research Center), visiting filmmaker Julie Mallozzi, and Benjamin Schultz Figueroa (UCSC Film + Digital Media PhD), moderated by Professor of Anthropology Nancy Chen and Associate Professor of Anthropology Megan Moodie.

 Co-sponsored by the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Bodies at War: A Colombian Landmine Story (Emily Cohen Ibañez, 2015)

A legacy of its unremitting decades long civil war, Colombia is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world. Bodies at war: A Colombian Landmine Story offers a window into Colombian people’s lives as they strive to rehabilitate themselves and others after landmine injury.  With remarkable access, Bodies at War brings together the perspectives of soldiers, civilians, surgeons, physical therapists, corporate representatives, paralympians, and activists on what rehabilitation is and means in Colombia.  Backed by years of ethnographic research, the film is not only powerful in its content, but a cinematic experiment in color, music, text, and sound.

Emily Cohen Ibañez (Assistant Director, Science and Justice Research Center, UCSC) is an anthropologist and filmmaker.  Her work explores the ways science, technology, and medicine influence the ways people come to know themselves and their world.  Her first book Bodies at War: An Ethnography is under review at Duke University Press.  The book examines what it means to rehabilitate after landmine injury in Colombia, one of the countries with the highest incidents of landmine injuries in the world.  Her debut film, Bodies at War/MINA (2015) recently premiered at El Festival de Cine de Bogotá.  Her work has also screened at the Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, and universities nationally and internationally.  She has received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, American Council for Learned Societies, NYU Torch Prize, PSC-CUNY, the Flaherty Film Seminar, and Fulbright Colombia.




Indelible Lalita (Julie Mallozzi, 2012) tells the story of a woman whose body has been painfully transformed by ovarian cancer, breast cancer, heart failure and a dramatic loss of skin pigment.  Lalita Bharvani is beautiful – but her pale, scarred body reads as a record of her difficult life experiences. Meditatively flowing between surface and interior, the film follows Lalita as she migrates from Bombay to Paris to Montréal, and becomes completely White along the way.  Lalita learns to let go of her body as the sign of her ethnicity and femininity – and ultimately realizes that her body is just a temporary vessel for her spirit. Indelible Lalita poses many questions to the audience: How linked is one’s identity to one’s physical appearance? Is the body somehow imprinted, like a passport getting stamped, by the place where one lives? Can the body be read as a record of all that has transpired in the soul within?

Julie Mallozzi’s films explore the fluidity of cultural identity and historical memory. Her work has won awards at festivals around the world and has screened in museums, universities, and on public television. Julie grew up with a Chinese-American mother and an Italian-American father in rural Ohio – where her family managed a Native American historical site for 20 years. Julie received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and has been an active freelancer in Boston’s lively documentary community. She has taught at Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston University, and Rhode Island School of Design.


The Green and the Blue (Benjamin Schultz Figueroa, 2011) profiles Marilyn Figueroa’s relationships with her plants and her pacemaker. One is built from a lifelong love of the greenery from her birthplace in Puerto Rico; the other is an imposed necessity, regulating her heart’s rhythm to keep her alive. Both enter and alter her experience of the world, changing who she is through their interactions. The film explores borders and border-crossing as we simultaneously differentiate ourselves and are assimilated by our environment.

Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa is a PhD candidate in Film and Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz. His work focuses on the history of film’s use to study animals in laboratory settings. Schultz-Figueroa has curated and screened works at such venues as Anthology Film Archives, Light Industry, Artists’ Television Access, Northwest Film Forum, and The Shanghai Biennial, and his writing has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, Culture Machine, and Photomeditations Machine.



2:30 PM – Welcoming remarks and Introduction

The Green and The Blue (13 min.)
Bodies at War: A Colombian Landmine Story (65 min.)

3:00 – 3:20 – COFFEE BREAK

Indelible Lalita (71 min., 2012)

4:30 – 5:15 – Discussion with Emily Cohen Ibañez, Julie Mallozzi, Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa, Megan Moodie, and Nancy Chen

Posted in Archives.