‘Sleep Has Her House’: experimental ecocinema in context

Released to significant critical acclaim by critics from Sight & Sound and MUBI Notebook, Scott Barley’s debut feature film, Sleep Has Her House (2017), had its Australian Premiere at the 2018 Environmental Film Festival of Australia (EFFA). Filmed using an iPhone with no production crew, Barley’s sombre yet hypnotic minimalist reverie is a timely reminder not only of the aesthetic possibilities of amateur filmmaking today but also of the ways in which cinema might adopt a different relationship to the natural world than those typically occasioned by the Anthropocene.

Using Sleep Has Her House as a springboard, this panel conversation explores the status and role of experimental ‘ecocinema’ on the film festival circuit, in the gallery space and as a growing field of scholarly inquiry. Together, the panellists consider the ecological and aesthetic significance of experimental filmmaking today, and the role of eco-friendly media in responding to the climate crisis more generally.


Professor Sean Cubitt is Professor of Screen Studies at the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Cinema Effect, Ecomedia, The Practice of Light, Finite Media and Anecdotal Evidence. Series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press, his current research is on political aesthetics, ecocritique, and practices of truth.

Chantelle Mitchell lives on unceded Wurundjeri Country. She has written for Stilts Journal, Heart of Hearts Press, Plumwood Mountain, The Lifted Brow and Marrickville Pause, and presented performance lectures for ACCA, the Ian Potter Museum, Bus Projects and Free Association.

Mark Newbound is a curator of the experimental film program for the Environmental Film Festival Australia. He also teaches environmental subjects at the University of Melbourne and makes short documentaries when he has time.

Nina Halton-Hernandez (moderator) is a PhD student at the University of Southampton where she is part of the Leverhulme Intelligent Oceans programme. Her research centres on documentary aesthetics and style in environmental documentaries portraying coastal regions. She has an interdisciplinary background in the sciences and film studies and has previously worked in TV production on a range of factual content for the BBC and Channel 4.


Environmental Film Festival Australia (EFFA)
Environmental Film Festival Australia is a 100% volunteer-run organisation that showcases groundbreaking cinema, traversing the relationship between humans and their environments, challenging the way people think about the natural world, and inspiring us all to discuss, explore and act on important environmental issues.