I don’t quite know how to start this post. Only two weeks ago, I shipped the first copies of The Art(s) of Slow Cinema – The 10th Anniversary Anthology (2022) to their new owners. It was in October 2012 that I began to write on this blog about slow films. I noticed early on that those films put a particular spell on me. Those films were not films to be analysed. Instead, they led me deeper and deeper into my soul. Every film that I saw, every article that I wrote helped me to get a little closer to the core of a kind of pain that I have been carrying around my entire life. Slow films helped to investigate this nagging feeling, this burden that weighed me down.
Perhaps it was written somewhere that I would be diagnosed with burnout almost exactly ten years after my first article. Perhaps this is what I had been working towards all the time. Not as something to look forward to, but something to reach to finally break this painful core and allow me to heal. To allow me to live because all I have been doing was surviving.
My PTSD diagnosis, which I had received in summer 2010, was adjusted to C-PTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder which is the result of chronic trauma.
Where am I right now and why am I writing this?
Every day is a struggle. Every day I have a little less energy. I have been fighting this for almost two months now but I have to accept the fact that I can’t stop my body emptying itself completely off its energy. Everything is exhausting. The words ‘fatigue’ and ‘exhaustion’ cannot adequately describe what it feels like to be burnt out. I’ve been exhausted for years. This is different. This is heavy. It’s frightening, but also soothing in a way because I tell myself that it can’t get any worse any more.
As I struggle to survive every day, I realise that I have nothing more to say. Not right now. Writing always puts me into an alternative state, it feels like diving. I don’t have the breath for diving at the moment. My oxygen bottle is empty.
I also have to consider the future. The Art(s) of Slow Cinema took a strong hit when I left Facebook and Instagram for reasons that should be clear. I lost on average ten to fifteen thousand readers. Monthly. The audience for my writing is a fraction today of what it used to be because I no longer have the platforms to advertise it. As Elon Musk takes over Twitter, I’m beginning to migrate away from it and will lose the last couple of thousand readers a month. As a freelance writer, I’m dependent on social media, but social media becomes more and more toxic, radical and dangerous. Of course, I move into safer waters.
I’m not sure where to go from here. Do I want to write into a void? Do I want to exhaust myself bringing films to life with very few people reading it in the end? Moving fully into book publishing makes little sense because, again, I don’t have the audience to advertise it and, at least for now, publishing the anthology earlier this year was a financial disaster. People are occupied with more important things, just like I am. They’re tired, concerned, perhaps even frightened of what may come.
This morning, I was on my way to the city centre. I had to turn back after ten minutes. I had no energy left and needed to lay down. This is what I will do with my writing, too. I will let it rest until the end of this year. I will reflect, I will debate with myself of where to go from here. My priority is my physical and mental health. Maybe this bleak period shuts one door but opens another.
Thank you to all my readers who stayed with me for ten years. Thank you for supporting me, thank you for your understanding. Let’s meet again in 2023.
Please take care of yourself and thank you for all you’ve done.
Thank you so much for your kind words!
I too enjoy being immersed in slow cinema and you have helped me, Nadine. Was it you ( or MUBI or both) that introduced me to LavDiaz?
Enjoy what you can- film books garden – try not to despair. Rest. Best wishes.
I’m so sorry to read this, but I totally understand. Yes, to what you have to to take care of yourself, and thank you for what you’ve given us!
Much love and respect friend, I’ve been following your work off and on for several years. I’m actually now back in school and studying European Cinema this semester. I’m working on a paper on Chantal Akerman and was thinking fondly of your work and words. You are a pillar in my understanding of slow cinema and a great cheerleading champion of it.
I think you’ll find similar stories around these spheres of people who fell out of touch with mainstream hollow-wood cinema and found strangely comforting company in these films of endurance and witness over action and easy solutions. They gather and sit in mourning with us as we move through seasons of trial in our own lives. That’s what makes them so special.
All that to say. Endless gratitude and respect. I look forward to where things take you and trust you will find the way even as it wanders into the thickets of fog.
Seeing your post on Twitter reminded me of your blog and Tao Films. It was such a bold and original streaming service. I enjoyed the films I watched on it… So thank you. And take care !
I must admit that after following your writing on this site for some time, I was a little taken aback by this latest post.
My surprise comes not because of the content – you have hinted at this “burnout” for some time – but due to the lack of ethics when it comes to your paying subscribers. At first, I was not going to say anything but reading after first reading these words (and the obvious symbol of the fire extinguished) and now your words posted on November 5 saying that this would “perhaps” be your last post for the site (and still not a word to those who stepped up to financially support you), I feel like I had to say something.
This arises from your understandable need to sustain yourself from your work and making the decision to put your writing behind a paywall, which you wrote about on the 4th of June this year under the title “A New Beginning.” At that time you wrote of your “passion” for writing and your need to focus your energy doing just that. At that time you asked people to step-up and support you by paying for this writing, which I know some answered the call to do just that. And were more than happy to do so. But in July, when the site became subscriber based, the problems were obvious from the start. The posts were infrequent and, in fact, fewer than when it was free (10 original posts in the same period in 2021 compared to 5 in 2022). Never was there a message sent to those who were paying about why the posts were so few until your most recent post about burnout. And while no one could reasonably argue that someone who feels like this should continue this cycle of burning themselves out at the cost of their mental and physical well-being, one could rightfully assert that those who paid for a “product” should not pay while this recovery takes place.
I will conclude by saying that your insights into this magic of “slow cinema” and thus the beauty and tragedy of life will be missed. And I’m sure this passion you spoke of will return – and if not to this genre certainly transformed into another area. But this packing-up with the money of those who did support you right when you asked them to pay reeks of everything slow cinema seeks to expose.
I’m sorry for the disappointment. I can understand it. It all went terribly wrong and I was not in the condition to realise myself what was happening. The subscription model was not set up to exploit supporters. In fact, the subscription model is a total failure. For full transparency, through Patreon I made around 130€ per month with my writing. If I have someone signing up for 2€ a month right now, I can count myself lucky. But their subscription always expires after one month. Even if I wanted to exploit people, it’s definitely not working. In October, I earned 1,71€ (after fees). I can assure you that I have made pretty much no money at all since July, and I’m happy to refund you if you give me your PayPal account.
The switch to the subscription model coincided, unfortunately, with my getting Covid (right at the beginning of July), which knocked me out for two months. Since April, I’ve been struggling with severe depression until I made a full crash landing in October. I tried to hold on, but I couldn’t. I wrote a ton. I wrote more than I have ever written before in my life. More than 100,000 words in six months. But it wasn’t related to film. I was in an alternate state and I could barely function. That I didn’t write to anybody is a) because I have a mere one or two subscribers right now and b) I wasn’t even sure what to say. This is not to say that I don’t value my subscribers. But I can guarantee you that the last thing you think about when you’re getting frighteningly closer and closer to your own suicide is to tell people, who signed up months ago on your website, how shit you feel and that you’re sorry for not being able to write. This may sound harsh and difficult to understand, but it is what it is. You’re fully focused on your survival, and I’m not going to apologise for this.
I am, however, sorry for the disappointment. I am happy to refund you, as I said. But what I do not accept is the accusation of taking advantage of my subscribers.
Thanks for your reply and your honesty, Nadin. I definitely never felt that your intention was to exploit people, and I certainly would not make that accusation. But you are right, I was a little disappointed that there was no mention on “perhaps” your last post that, for those who chose to support this new direction in July and, thus, paid in advance to demonstrate this belief, you would not mention issuing a refund just out of good faith. It was not a money thing, but a principle thing that got me.
That said, please retain my subscription fee. I will consider it a small price to pay for all your recommendations and writing prior to this departure.
Thank you for your response, Shane. It’s been a process. When I wrote this post, I wasn’t sure if it would be my last post. Since posting it, I realised that it would be fair to speak about the possibility in case people wanted to sign up for the website.
There is a misunderstanding, however. The subscription model was not supposed to become a mirror of Patreon. I left Patreon precisely because I stressed out over writing for people who support me. I stressed out over writing for money and I couldn’t handle it anymore. The subscription model meant people had to pay to read my 400+ articles. It wasn’t so much about new stuff, it was about the entire work of ten years, which has been copied and used so many times. People published books, articles, gave conference presentations using my work without acknowledging it. I’m still invisible in the actual field, which, I believe, I have furthered more than anyone else. I decided that things had to change. A paywall won’t stop anyone, but at least whoever wants to use my work from now on has to chip something into the piggy bank.
There has been a lot going on in my head lately, and perhaps not everything was clear from the beginning. For that, I apologise. I really need time off, refocus, rediscover my passion and I can start anew with a clearer mind.