The next step – The Art(s) of Slow Cinema Journal

It’s been several years that I dream of publishing my own journal. I was still a student when I began to think about pursuing this because I was frustrated at being rejected because my subject matter didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Things have changed lot, though, since the idea first popped into my head, although I can say for sure that it has never disappeared. Over the years, my blog has become the most visited site in the area of Slow Cinema. I have readers from all corners of the world (except for Greenland, which I find very sad), and I have gotten to know a lot of wonderful people because of my writing. I have gotten to know filmmakers, cinephiles, but I also came across new films thanks to my readers. In the last five years, I have been able to build a network of people whose interest and thirst for Slow Cinema I’m happy to cater for, and who, at the same time, taught me a lot; about cinema, about writing, about confidence, about myself.

It is thanks to Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais that I’m returning to my idea of publishing a journal. When I held their FilmPanic magazine in my hands, I could no longer shake off this thought. I could no longer ignore it for another couple of years. My guts told me that now was the time. Why is that? Because I feel that this would be the right step forwards; expanding on the blog; inviting other contributors, whom I always rejected because the blog was supposed to be my personal platform on which I developed my own ideas; creating a new challenge for myself; challenging academia and its published content on Slow Cinema.

The Art(s) of Slow Cinema has already given birth to tao films, my video-on-demand platform for contemplative world cinema. The platform went live on 1 January 2017, and after a few adjustments (learning by doing!), we’re now offering a growing catalogue of fiction films, documentaries and experimental cinema. Every month, more films are added and you can either buy the films individually, or you can get yourself a 30-day subscription, which will not be renewed automatically. We’re fair and don’t want to cash in on people’s forgetfulness on having subs with several platforms. So, in case you haven’t yet been aware of this project, you should definitely check it out, because we show films that are difficult to get hold of, or are, in most cases, available exclusively on tao.

The Art(s) of Slow Cinema journal, whose publication in the near future I’m herewith announcing (you should imagine me dance while writing this!), is another step forward, another attempt at expanding on the work I have already done, and at creating alternative content in the context of Slow Cinema. I will take it slow, of course, and start small. There won’t be a fancy design, there won’t be glossy paper, or a team of editors trying to think of what’s best to publish. What this journal will be instead is a space for those interested in the field to publish their ideas and thoughts. The journal will develop as freely as it can, without word limits etc which always inhibit a real development of great ideas. Just as I listen to the filmmakers, who release their films through tao films, I’ll listen to the writers of The Art(s) of Slow Cinema journal and accompany them as best as I can. So what can you expect if not the glossy stuff or a perfectly designed, expensive magazine?

You’ll be able to read exclusive content that you wouldn’t find here on this blog. There will be interviews with filmmakers. There will be filmmaker notes, essays by filmmakers, diaries about their shootings. There will be essays by cinephiles, who have a special interest in Slow Cinema and who love to explore certain themes in more detail in their writing. There will be creative responses to films. There will be a whole lot that you will never find either here or in academic writing. It’ll be a sort of fan journal, if you want to call it this way, albeit this might sound too cheesy and boring.

The first authors have been selected, and they’re working on their respective pieces until the beginning of July. I’m really looking forward to this and feel super excited to take this step this year, as, yes, the first edition will be published this year. Magazines will be available via pre-order only in order to create a sustainable project that does not become a financial burden. I don’t want to prep 1,000 copies if only 100 people want to read it. I don’t have a fireplace where I can burn the rest to heat the house ūüėÄ Nowadays, we need to be reasonable and while I would love to go full-blow on this, I want to do this right, that means careful, thought-through, with the aim to grow if necessary and possible.

Details about the content of the first edition and the pre-order price will be published in due course. I need to collect the articles first and then I can give you an update on everything. Let’s make this happen and please share the slow love! Thank you!

TOMORROW: tao films advent calendar

It’s almost Xmas, and we have prepared something special for lovers of contemplative cinema. Our tao films advent calendar offers 24 previously unseen short films. Each short film is available for 1‚ā¨ only and for 24 hours only. The calendar is a sneak peek on what we will offer in 2018, and, of course, it’s a superb way to celebrate cinema and Xmas at the same time ūüėČ

So here’s the screening schedule for the coming three weeks. The special offer starts tomorrow, 1 December, midnight Central European Time. All films can be bought separately or you can buy the entire calendar in one go. Hope to see you around!! Don’t forget, you can discuss the films in our dedicated tao films community on Facebook. If you tweet about the calendar or want to give us a shoutout, please use the hashtag #taofilmsxmas

1 Dec РTHE SADNESS OF THE TREES by Scott Barley and Mikel Guillen
2 Dec РSHADOWS SET TO THE WEST by Manj Gill
3 Dec – SPIN OF YOUTH by¬†Jo√ęl Duinkerke
4 Dec – PASSAGE by Telemach Wiesinger
5 Dec РA PIOUS MAN by Alex Megaro
6 Dec РINGANNI by Salvatore Insana
7 Dec РTHE PAPERMAN by AbhirOop Basu
8 Dec РTHE EMPTY NEST by Marta Hernaiz Pidal
9 Dec РHUH by Filip Kojic
10 Dec РPSYCHOPOMP by Mariachiara Pernisa and Morgan Menegazzo
11 Dec РNOC by Pilar Palomero
12 Dec РMEMOIRE CARBONE by Pierre Villemin
13 Dec РWEDDING PREPARATIONS IN THE COUNTRY by Akash Sharma
14 Dec РA MIND OF ICE by Eli Hayes
15 Dec РAMPLIACION by Jaime Ignacio Grijalba Gómez
16 Dec РCARROZZERIA MISTA by Francis Magnenot and Katia Viscogliosi
17 Dec РQUIRO by Yudhajit Basu
18 Dec РMEER by Wolfgang Lehmann and Telemach Wiesinger
19 Dec РBRUSSELS NOTES by José Fernandez
20 Dec РFROM THE SIDE by Yefim Tovbis
21 Dec РPESCARE by Kevin Pontuti
22 Dec – OD EL-CAMINO by Martin Meija
23 Dec РTO TAKE ANOTHER HUMAN FORM by Jijo Sebastian Palatty
24 DEC РWHAT REMAINS by Enzo Cillo

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tao films subscription pre-sale

As part of our effort to increase tao films’ visibility, we are running a pre-sale campaign for subscriptions to our VoD platform, the only platform that is dedicated to the art of contemplative cinema ūüôā

There are several reasons behind this campaign. First of all, even though we started off as a no-budget platform, we can no longer hide the fact that it costs money to run a platform like this. I would love to have things differently, but it’s sadly not always possible. Our campaign is therefore an effort to raise at least 600 EUR in order to keep going for the next 12 month. It is also a way to find out whether subscriptions would be a viable way forward as the campaign will show whether there is an interest in subscriptions or whether it is more attractive to price each film individually. I believe it is the former, but we offer different price models for our campaign, so we will see what attracts people most. The money we raise with this campaign helps us not only to keep going but to focus on advertising, on partnerships, on generally increasing our visibility, especially in key cities around Europe and North America (as our main targets) in 2018.

For the duration of the campaign, we offer a one-month subscription for 10 EUR, a three-months subscription for 25 EUR, a six-months subscription for 50 EUR, a twelve-months subscription for 100 EUR and one lucky lifetime subscription for 500 EUR. Each of those subscriptions will become available in the new year and you can then decide when you want to start watching our films. All films are available to you, all the time, for the duration of your subscription.

Our campaign runs until 16 October. If you love what we do, please consider a subscription. If you cannot support us financially but love what we do, we would appreciate it if you could share the link to our campaign and tell everyone how amazing we are ūüôā

Do check our campaign on Indiegogo (click, click!). Thank you so much for your support in the past. I appreciate your help and support, and I’m looking forward to continuing this contemplative journey through world cinema with you!

Tao Films Selection for August and Other News

On 1 August, we added 5 films to our permanent tao films library. There is now a selection of 20 films from 17 countries available to you. I’m particularly happy of adding more contemplative experimental films because I love just how much they have you engaged, how much you’re left to your own devices. Maybe this will become my new thing now!

tao films selection 

BALADA by Anton Petersen (Faroe Islands)

The last evening together – a couple who has just broken up need to clean their apartment before the next morning when both of them will go their separate ways. Petersen, from the Faroe Islands and a former student at B√©la Tarr’s film.factory places emphasis on the rift between the two characters, but does so with little dialogue. Instead, the mise-en-sc√®ne and the film’s characteristic smooth travelling camera speak volumes.

KALEIDOSCOPE by Telemach Wiesinger (Germany)

One could say that Telemach Wiesinger is the modern man with a movie camera, a sort of contemporary version of Dziga Vertov, whose film is and will always remain a classic. Kaleidoscope is a film poem, a travelogue, perhaps a book of moving images in 21 chapters. The images, well-chosen and put into light, are, thanks to Wiesinger’s versatile aesthetics, a reminder that there is not one tempo, one form of pace in life. Rather, it is a combination of speed and slowness, of linear time and time that progresses like the movements of a river.

LA COGNIZIONE DEL CALORE by Salvatore Insana (Italy)

This film is shown for the very first time in the world and I’m proud that tao films could be the platform for the world premiere of Salvatore Insana’s new experimental short film.¬†La Cognizione evokes several feelings at once, and perhaps the idea of memory is strongest throughout the film. Or is it? Insana uses sound in a peculiar way, allowing it an almost hyperreal presence, rendering the images spooky, voyeuristic, but also intriguing and captivating. Through its hyperreal and yet vague aesthetics, Insana has created an impressive experimental, say experiential, film that will captivate your senses.

LETTERS FROM THE DESERT by Michela Occhipinti (Italy)

Seven years (!!!) after the first release of the film,¬†Letters from the Desert, the first feature film by Michela Occhipinti, is finally available for the world to see. I have come across this film during my PhD research, and I’m proud that I can give this patient documentary a home now. Occhipinti tells the story of a postman in the desert. We see him picking up letters at the train station and distributing them to several villages. The arrival of letters is an event, something that we have long forgotten. But there are signs of change; the first communication post appears in the middle of the desert…

THE BLIND WALTZ by Sebastian Eklund (Sweden)

Another experimental short film that is one of my favourites at the moment. The extraordinary vision Eklund shows in his photographs (he’s also a photographer) also shows in his cinematic work.¬†The film’s stunning images take us on a journey through his house while the crisp-clear sound makes one believe that what is happening is happening around us, in our own home. Eklund‚Äôs visual and aural treatment is almost hyperreal and it finds its climax during the blind waltz that is almost illusionary and yet, it is real.

In other news

Eight months into our work, we have (finally!) been written about, and in a very positive way, too! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the article in S√ľddeutsche Zeitung, one of the three main newspapers in Germany, a daily paper from Munich. That was worth a drink and really helped to get our name out. But more needs to be done. We’re now in contact with KONT magazine, a new slow magazine from the Netherlands…

The first Slow Short Film Festival is coming up. It takes place in England and several of our films (already showing or still to come) will be shown on a big screen, amongst them ECCE HOMO by Dimitar Kutmanov, CENTAUR by Aleksandra Niemczyk and ONE TIMES ONE by Chris Bell. Hats off to the organisers! More info, including a trailer can be found on the official website.

Kevin Pontuti’s ONERE keeps traveling the world, and has been selected for the Nevada City Film Festival. Watch Kevin’s film now on tao films, if you’re curious as to what all this festival buzz is about.

Sorayos Prapapan’s new film DEATH OF THE SOUND MAN has its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. His short film¬†A SOUVENIR FROM SWITZERLAND is still available on tao films.

EHO by Dren Zherka, soon available on tao films, will have its Austrian premiere in Kitzb√ľhel this month.

Another film just had its world premiere;¬†1000 SMILES PER HOUR by Fabian Altenried premiered in Edinburgh and has also been selected for the Sarajevo Film Festival, which has just come to a close. I’m sure many more festival screenings will happen, and we’re looking forward to showing the film in the near future.

More news to come next month! Till then, keep watching good films and take it slow!

Seaworld – Hing Tsang (2016)

!!! This film is now available on tao films !!!

What I like about my job (is it even a job?) is that I always find films that surprise me; films that show me something I haven’t seen before; films that startle me in a positive way. It keeps up my faith in cinema, in the idea that not everything is (as yet) homogenous for a homogenous mass out there.¬†Hing Tsang’s¬†Seaworld is one of those that, to be fair, took a while to get me. But the longer the film lasted, the more I loved it. If you have seen slow films before, or even just our films on tao films, then¬†Seaworld will surprise you. It might make you raise your eyebrows. It might make you laugh. But its smoothness, its gentleness, will take you on a very enjoyable journey to the bottom of the sea.

Seaworld (Hing Tsang, 2016)

Seaworld is not the ordinary slow film. It is not entirely narrative, but not entirely experimental either. It is not entirely fiction, but not entirely documentary either (“I try not to work within the limits of genre.”). It is a game, a playful trip alongside sea creatures that you sure haven’t seen this way yet. For this film, Hing Tsang, a lecturer in Suffolk whose work focuses on documentary film, worked together with Jos√© Navarro, a puppeteer from Peru. While the film starts with “real” footage taken at a beach, the film then shifts to the actual sea world, entirely replicated by Navarro’s body; arms and legs become fish and other creatures. Even shoes become creatures that one can find in the sea.

The movements of Navarro’s arms, legs and feet are graceful. They’re imitating the movement of sea creatures beautifully. The use of a green and slightly blue background to these movements gives us a sense of where we really are. The creatures are slightly transparent at times, at others they’re a bit blurred. The characteristics of water change our perception of what we see in it, and Hing Tsang is trying to get as close to this as possible, albeit in an abstract (puppeteer) way. When I saw the film in London, where I met the director, I was conscious of the film dragging me towards it,¬†pulling me into it. But I couldn’t resist. Not that I wanted to, but I nevertheless found it curious that I couldn’t let it go.

Seaworld (Hing Tsang, 2016)

Seaworld is not just a combination of dream imagery. Hing Tsang uses a very effective, minimalist soundtrack that renders the film a visual lullaby. Just speaking of the sound, the film reminded me of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short film¬†Mekong Hotel. The images are very different, but the persistent slow guitar music functions as a lullaby; it pulls you in, it makes you sleepy. The same process goes on in Hing Tsang’s¬†Seaworld.

I would strongly advise you to give this film a try via tao films where it is available for streaming. It’s a wonderful piece of work, something that definitely helps you to wind down after a long week of work. It’s Friday, and¬†Seaworld would surely help you to take it slow, all the while showing a kind of slow film you have probably not seen before.

Wanderer – Martynas Kundrotas (2016)

!!! This film is now available on tao films until 30 June 2017 !!!

Three months ago, I have moved to Brittany after two pretty depressing years in the north of France. Now that the stressful study time (PhD time) is over, I’m trying to take a lot more time for me and my natural surrounding. My new home is a two to three minute walk away from a canal where you can have a daily walk and watch the ducks making their way to whatever place they would like to go. A five minute walk away is a¬†prairie, a sort of wild place; lots of trees, bushes, birds and even rabbits! If the weather allows it, I’ll make sure to walk through this peaceful place, a place where I can breathe, where I can think or not think, where I can just¬†be.

Now, why am I telling you all this, you might wonder. When I walk through the prairie, I’m always thinking of Martynas Kundrotas’¬†Wanderer, a simple short film about a young wanderer roaming about in nature. I agree, it doesn’t sound like the most spectacular film, and it is, in fact, the least spectacular film I have offered on tao films so far. I have programmed it nevertheless, because I think that Kundrotas’¬†Wanderer is the closest a slow film comes to what I think some slow film directors want to achieve: bring us, disconnected as we are from our natural surrounding, back to our environment.

Martynas Kundrotas – Wanderer

I believe that we have lost touch with nature. If anything, we think we’re the master of nature, which is also shown in Western painting. I spoke about Chinese painting on this blog before and how Chinese painters painted Man always in a sort of miniature size in order to show that nature is more powerful, more forceful. The size of humans in Western painting is an indication of what we think of ourselves: we’re the crowning glory, we have the power to control nature. Indeed, our relationship to nature is one of control, power and exploitation. We straighten rivers; we hunt animals just for the fun of it; we cut down trees because they’re in our way; we exploit our natural resources in order to live in luxury. If we do walk through a park here and there, it is only to walk through. It’s usually not in order to stop and look at trees, grass, or flowers.

Looking at the bark of a tree, for longer than a second, as does Kundrotas’ wanderer, is the opposite of our terribly fast life. We need an adrenaline kick nowadays in order to feel alive, and the bark of a tree is everything but. However, the more time you spend looking, the more you see. There is so much life, a life that runs parallel to others, but a life which we aren’t aware of, because we don’t take the time to become aware of it in the first place.

Martynas Kundrotas – Wanderer

Kundrota’s wanderer roams through fields, touching the grass. He stands at a riverbed in the rain, seemingly enjoying every drop that falls from the sky. While we would open our umbrellas or run for cover, the wanderer remains at one with nature. Water, precious source of life, is something else we merely use without being aware of the meaning of it for us. We have become ignorant, blind, and numb, and Kundrotas attempts to rectify this.¬†Wanderer is not a film that seeks to teach. Rather, in simple, unspectacular frames, the director tries to raise awareness; awareness of what what is around us, awareness of what we no longer see.

He very much follows Chantal Akerman’s mantra, which I described last week. In order to see, you need to look for longer than a few seconds. Seeing means more than recognising. It means getting to know, it means letting oneself drift off maybe for a chance to learn something new. It is entirely up to you whether you take the journey with the wanderer or whether you dismiss the reality of what nature really is and what it means to us, to our presence, and that, without it, we wouldn’t be here.

tao films VoD – Full feature film programme

We have a complete feature film programme for the first three months of tao films VoD, running from January to March 2017. The short film programme will be added soon. But I’d like to present to you the three chosen featured films with which we will launch tao films. Here are a few taster screenshots for you. Trailers will follow in due time.¬†You’re invited to join us and the filmmakers next year. You won’t be disappointed!

P.S.: You can still help tao films with a donation on GoFundMe.

(1) Sleep Has Her House, directed by Scott Barley (2016) – World Premiere

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(2) Osmosis, directed by Nasos Karabelas (2016)

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(3) Centaur, directed by Aleksandra Niemczyk (2016)

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tao films VoD – A world of films

Thursday in exactly four months, we’ll see the launch of tao films VoD. I already mentioned the world premiere of Scott Barley’s first feature film¬†Sleep Has Her House. The other films which will be shown as part of the first curated programme will be announced in a month from now. I’m still pondering which ones to choose from. There are so many! I keep saying that I receive films from all over the world. And it’s true. But you might want to see it with your own eyes. So, here you go…tao films, a world of films!

If you want to support us, please go to our website and follow the GoFundMe link. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

world-map

tao films VoD – Further info

I would like to use the time to explain a little more about the VoD platform. Things have developed quite a bit since I posted the original project description online. I also think that a great deal of people (including filmmakers) don’t read it ūüôā So maybe it’s a good opportunity right now to describe the forthcoming platform for which we are seeking the support of the people on GoFundMe, in more personal terms. This is what the platform is; a personal project, not a matter of business.

tao films VoD will go live on 1 January. It is a platform which seeks to support underrepresented or even completely unknown filmmakers, whose aesthetics are very much contemplative. There will be feature films, short films, and even experimental installation pieces. There will be films from Mexico, films from Thailand, films from Morocco, films from all corners of the world.

My intention is it to show films which have no distribution (yet). This does not mean that the films can‚Äôt run on festivals. Of course, they can. Festivals are fantastic opportunities, and I wouldn’t prevent anyone from experiencing this. But we do seek to have exclusive rights for 3 consecutive months during which the film should not be shown on any other platform.

The VoD is not meant to be the end of a film screened. I know that when a film is shown on VoD, it has usually finished its theatrical run. This is not what I’m interested in. In many ways, I think, the VoD could be the beginning of something new, something larger. The platform will generate exposure for the films, so if something else comes out of it, I’d be very proud and happy to support the filmmakers in every way I can.

I envision the forthcoming tao films VoD as a community project. It is not my project, or that of me and my brother. Yes, we’re hosting the films and prepare everything for their streaming. But we ask the filmmakers to join in. In the end, they know their work best. For instance, the filmmakers will be asked to upload their films, enter information about their work and about themselves.

Filmmakers and hosts work together to make this platform happen, which I believe is the way forward if you want to have a lively community, a sort of friendship, and not a model which is based on profit and nothing else. We will also make it possible for the viewer to contact the featured directors directly, in the hope that this encourages a vibrant community. I’m sure viewers will be interested in this, and the platform will be less anonymous than all the others we know. There will be a direct link between us, the artists and the viewers. I see us as a family, and nothing less.

The platform will have pay-per-view and free content. The free content will be accessible in form of a permanent collection. A sort of pool of all kinds of shorts – I mean short shorts – or films that are already showing for free on other platforms. Then there will be pay-only content, which features feature and short films. At the moment, the costs are set for 4,99‚ā¨ per feature film and 0,99‚ā¨ per short film. But this is not confirmed and may change. The pay-only content will change every three months, and the films will then be deleted from our servers.

Everyone involved will profit in the same way from the platform. tao films VoD will not be a competition. We’re all working together on this. Hosts and the filmmakers involved receive an equal percentage of the money the VoD platform makes every month. tao films VoD will be the most equal distribution method you can probably find.¬†

I’m still waiting for confirmation about the registration of “tao films” as trademark. But what I can say for sure already is that I have tried to register the name for film distribution, film production, exhibitions, book publishing, journal publishing,¬†photography work, and more.

The logo is in the works. The contracts will be up for debate amongst the chosen filmmakers any day now. As I said, it’s a community, and I want this to be a fair distribution vehicle. If the filmmakers can help, then I’m more than happy to listen to them to make the platform better and fairer for all.

And now it starts to sound like a political speech, which is why I should stop myself ūüôā I just live for the project. I don’t like describing it. But feel free to contact me and ask questions, especially if you’re a filmmaker! Drop me an email via theartsofslowcinema@gmail.com

Please help – The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD

As part of the set up of the forthcoming¬†The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD platform, I have started a crowdfunding campaign, which seeks to cover current labour costs and costs of the server,¬†payment provider and content delivery network. Every small contribution helps. And you even get a voucher code for a curated theme of your choice! ūüôā

Please spread the message. Please consider donating. Please make this platform happen!

On behalf of the involved artists, thank you, thank you, and thank you.

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