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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] Examples include Ben Rivers' Two Years at Sea, Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte, Nili Portugali's And the alley she whitewashed in light blue and Shaun Wilson's film 51 Paintings.[2][4][5]


Progenitors of the genre include Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Robert Bresson, Aleksandr Sokurov, Béla Tarr, Chantal Akerman and Theo Angelopoulos.[6] Tarkovsky argued that "I think that what a person normally goes to cinema for is time".[1] [7]

Greek director Theo Angelopoulos has been described as an "icon of the so-called Slow Cinema movement".[8]

Recent underground film movements such as Remodernist film share the sensibility of slow or contemplative cinema. Examples include The Turin Horse by Béla Tarr, the works of Fred Kelemen, Sleep Has Her House by Scott Barley and The Earth Still Moves by Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez.

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][4][9][5]

Recent examples also include films by Kelly Reichardt, Tsai Ming-Liang, and the late Abbas Kiarostami[10][11]


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".[4] 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."[12] 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."[13] Dan Fox of Frieze criticized both the dichotomy of the argument into 'philistine' vs 'pretentious' and the reductiveness of the term "slow cinema".[14]

Recently, film scholars Katherine Fusco and Nicole Seymour have pointed out that the slow cinema movement has been mischaracterized by both supporters and detractors. As they argue, much "commentary posits slow cinema as a kind of pastoral for the present moment, a respite from our technologically saturated ... Hollywood-blockbuster-centered era." Such commentary therefore associates the movement with pleasure and relaxation. But in reality, slow cinema films often focus on down-and-out laborers; as Fusco and Seymour argue, "for those on the fringes of society, modernity is actually experienced as slowness, and usually to their great detriment."[15]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Tom Clift. Experimental Expression Archived 2014-04-16 at the Wayback Machine. 'Filmink Magazine', August, 2012.
  6. ^ Nick James. Syndromes of a new century. Sight & Sound, February 2010
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ David Jenkins. Theo Angelopoulos: the sweep of history Archived 2012-04-23 at the Wayback Machine. Sight & Sound, February 2012
  9. ^ Slow Cinema Weekend. AV Festival, March 2012.
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ Vadim Rizov. Slow cinema backlash. IFC, 12 May 2010.
  13. ^ Danny Leigh. The view: Is it OK to be a film philistine? The Guardian Film Blog, 21 May 2010
  14. ^ Dan Fox. Slow, Fast, and Inbetween Archived 2011-09-08 at the Wayback Machine.Frieze blog, 23 May 2010
  15. ^ Fusco and Seymour. Kelly Reichardt: Emergency and the Everyday.December 2017