Slow cinema

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Slow cinema is a genre of art cinema film-making that emphasizes long takes, and is often minimalist, observational, and with little or no narrative.[1][2] It is sometimes called "contemplative cinema".[3]

Progenitors of the genre include Andrei Tarkovsky, Chantal Akerman, Theo Angelopoulos, Béla Tarr, Lav Diaz, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson and Michelangelo Antonioni.[4] Tarkovsky argued that "I think that what a person normally goes to cinema for is time".[1] Greek director Theo Angelopoulos has been described as an "icon of the so-called Slow Cinema movement".[5] Contemporary Contemplative Cinema directors are Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai Ming-liang, Pedro Costa, Aleksandr Sokurov, Bruno Dumont, Carlos Reygadas and Ben Rivers. Examples include Ben Rivers' A Spell to Ward off the Darkness, Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte, and Shaun Wilson's film 51 Paintings.[2][6][7]

Notable Examples of Slow Cinema[edit]

Sight & Sound noted of the definition of slow cinema that "The length of a shot, on which much of the debate revolves, is a quite abstract measure if divorced from what takes place within it".[6] The Guardian contrasted the long takes of the genre with the two-second average shot length in Hollywood action movies, and noted that "they opt for ambient noises or field recordings rather than bombastic sound design, embrace subdued visual schemes that require the viewer's eye to do more work, and evoke a sense of mystery that springs from the landscapes and local customs they depict more than it does from generic convention."[1] The genre has been described as an "act of organized resistance" similar to the Slow food movement.[3]

It has been criticized as being indifferent or even hostile to audiences.[1] A backlash by Sight & Sound's Nick James, and picked up by online writers, argued that early uses of long takes were "adventurous provocations created by extremists" whereas recent films are "operating within a recognized, default artistic idiom."[8] The Guardian's film blog concluded that "being less overweeningly precious about films that are likely to be impenetrable to even the most well-informed audiences would seem an idea."[9] Dan Fox of Frieze criticized both the dichotomy of the argument into 'philistine' vs 'pretentious' and the reductiveness of the term "slow cinema".[10]

The AV Festival held a Slow Cinema Weekend at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle, UK in March 2012, including the films of Rivers, Lav Diaz, Lisandro Alonso and Fred Kelemen.[1][6][11][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sukhdev Sandhu. 'Slow cinema' fights back against Bourne's supremacy. The Guardian, 9 March 2012
  2. ^ a b Steven Rose. Two Years At Sea: little happens, nothing is explained. The Guardian, 26 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b Thomas Elsaesser, Stop/Motion in Eivind Rossaak (ed). Between Stillness and Motion: Film, Photography, Algorithms. p117. 2011
  4. ^ Nick James. Syndromes of a new century. Sight & Sound, February 2010
  5. ^ David Jenkins. Theo Angelopoulos: the sweep of history. Sight & Sound, February 2012
  6. ^ a b c Miller, Henry K. (March 2012). "Doing time: 'slow cinema' at the AV Festival". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. 
  7. ^ a b Tom Clift. Experimental Expression. 'Filmink Magazine', August, 2012.
  8. ^ Vadim Rizov. Slow cinema backlash. IFC, 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ Danny Leigh. The view: Is it OK to be a film philistine? The Guardian Film Blog, 21 May 2010
  10. ^ Dan Fox. Slow, Fast, and Inbetween.Frieze blog, 23 May 2010
  11. ^ Slow Cinema Weekend. AV Festival, March 2012.