During my research I have come across a number of slow film festivals, which implied that Slow Cinema is not as marginal as sometimes thought. The most telling example is the Slow Film Fest in Hungary. Until last year, it had been an annual festival showcasing a wide range of slow film. The programme of 2010 indicates just how varied the submissions had been. Unfortunately, the festival was discontinued. I am currently in contact with the man behind the festival, and will publish (with his permission, of course) more details about the festival.
Slow Cinema, or slow film, is picked up regularly. Even the Design Week in Budapest had a specially curated Slow Cinema strand last year. But there’s still no coherent explanation of what SC really is. The attempts of describing it are incoherent, as they are based on a debate of (subjective) time, and the films’ technical aspects, which limits the view on SC as being simply a reaction of filmmakers to the high-speed screen entertainment in today’s world.
I propose something entirely different. Something that, if you take your time to see, makes all the difference.
Slow Cinema is a treatment of time not associated with Western cultures.
Too simple? But this is what it is. Slow Cinema is an expression of Eastern perceptions of time. Time is not reversible, as is technically the case in the West, as all it takes is reversing our clock. Philip Rawson (Art and Time, 2005) opposes our perception of time with that of Eastern cultures; the ancient water clocks implying that time is irreversible. Time keeps flowing, and cannot be chopped up, rearranged, etc. as is the case in contemporary popular film. Also, Slow Cinema is essentially a study of the present. It is an observation, a meditation.
More to the point, Amy Cappellazzo writes,
“Western philosophical discourse has a relationship to time that, in general, does not emphasise an awareness of the present moment … There is no religious or philosophical practice like Zen, for example, which frames what we would call ‘real time’ as an opportunity for deeper contemplation and, ideally, understanding of our human condition.” (2000, 16)
Think about it….