Slow Cinema VoD – Update (3)

Today, I would like to list the directors whose works I have chosen for The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD. These directors have submitted their films after the first call for films, or I have asked them whether they’d be interested in the project. That these names appear here today does not mean that the Call for Films is now over. It remains an open call. I simply want to announce the first batch of participants.

Yesterday, I finished watching the submissions. For some films, I only needed to see the first frame and my decision was clear. For others, I had to let the film do its work on me before I could decide whether it would be good to include it or not. From the submissions I have received since January, I have chosen the majority. Let me give you the names now before I continue with my thoughts on them:

Simo Ezoubeiri, Sebastian Cordes, Yulene Olaizola, Michela Occhipinti*, Félix Dufour-Laperrière, Tito Molina, Felipe Guerrero, Zhengfan Yang, Homer Etminani, Pablo Lamar*, Christos Gkotsis, Martin Meija, Liryc de la Cruz, Shengze Zhu, Yotam Ben-David, Miguel Hilari, Jaime Grijalba, Allison Chhorn, José Fernandes, Diego Amando Moreno Garza, Jenni Olson, Martynas Kundrotas, Blaz Kutin, Mark John Ostrowski, Sorayos Prapapan, Yarr Zabratski, Peter Sant, Oren Contrell, Mirac Atabey, Dina Yanni, Nandan Rado, Kevin Pontuti, Scott Barley, Mikel Guillen, Lois Patino*, Tiara Kristiningtyas*, Panahbarkhoda Rezaee*, Salvatore Insana, Manjeet S. Gill, Ion Indolean, Yefim Tovbis, Regina Danino, Krishnendu Sarkar, Karel Tuytschaever.

Those names which are labelled with a stars are not 100% certain yet. I’m trying my best to chase up the directors (or find them!), but I haven’t yet been successful. If you can help in any way, please let me know.

Some filmmakers have submitted more than one film. There is a great mixture of amateurs and “professional” filmmakers. I have an almost even number of feature and short films, which is fantastic. I thought that I would receive more short films than anything else, but this is not the case.

The chosen films are either made in, or the directors come from the following countries:

Mexico, USA, Canada, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Greece, Israel, Belgium, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine, UK, Turkey, Austria, Morocco, Australia, India, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand. 

Unfortunately, there is only one film from Africa so far, but I’m nonetheless proud that the Call for Films has attracted films from all continents. I had always hoped this would be a global platform. Obviously, I couldn’t influence the film submissions. Yet there was the risk that I would end up with films from predominantly Western countries. Another fear which was unfounded. South America is very strong, a fact I like most. I’ve always had a strong feeling that there are plenty slow films being made in South American countries. I have three films from Mexico so far. Not a surprise, if I see the countries general output of good arthouse cinema.

This morning, I set up a Facebook group for all directors who have been chosen from the first batch of submissions. From now on, there will be a direct and quick contact between me and them regarding the project development. New members will be added as we go along with the project.

One final point, we have Cinéma Fragile on board, a French film collective focusing on film haikus. Their films are freely available on Vimeo. They will remain free, but The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD will show them, too.

Any questions? Any more films? Please contact me!

Edit: You can now donate to our crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.

Day 24 – Surprise (me)

I finish this year’s advent calendar with a self-experiment in slow-filmmaking. It’s one thing to watch slow films all the time. But as I was to find out, it’s an entirely different matter to sit behind the camera and keep quiet for only five minutes just so that you don’t ruin the sound. It was fun to do, though, and I enjoyed it. You can find the video at the bottom of today’s entry.

The last 23 days have taken me to many countries. I was in Argentina with Lisandro Alonso, and in Mexico with Nicolas Pereda. I was in imaginative, historical spaces with Albert Serra, and in dark and evils spaces with Béla Tarr. I found myself in cramped apartments in China, in vast spaces of Turkish forests. I was in Japan, Iran and Sweden. Oh, and not to forget, I joined a couple of monks in France. The films I watched were a glimpse of suffering in the Philippines, of longing in Taiwan, of past memories in Thailand.

Over 37 hours of slow film. I cannot deny that it became difficult towards the end to find words for the films. Watching a slow film is, I find, an entirely different experience. Slow films really take you on a journey. You spend so much time with the characters that you feel as though you have been through what they have been through in two hours.

It was a great idea, though. It is one thing to watch a slow film here and there. It is a wholly different matter if you watch 23 films in a row. It gave me a real grasp of what Slow Cinema is about, how many nuances there are, what themes they actually tackle, and how similar and yet different the filmmakers are in their approaches.

I hope you enjoyed the excursion into slowness. This blog will now return to the usual weekly or fortnightly posts, and film comments whenever I’m lucky enough to find a diamond somewhere.

Merry Christmas!

Day 4 – Daughter…Father…Daughter (Rezaee)

Day four allowed me to leave the cramped Chinese apartment. Instead I moved to an era of Iran I thought never existed. If anything, we do not imagine Iran to be country of magnificent landscapes. Panahbarkhoda Rezaee’s film Daughter…Father…Daughter (2011) displays this strikingly.

The film is exactly what I call Slow Cinema; a slow narrative film with striking landscapes in the background, and a cinematographer who definitely has a photographic eye. I was debating with myself how best to write about this film, and I’m keen on showing you the beauty rather than writing about it. So this will be fairly short today.

Daughter...Father...Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter…Father…Daughter, Rezaee

Daughter… tells the story of three sisters living in a remote area of Iran with their father, whose house functions more or less as a small petrol station for people nearby. He’s old and frail. The economic situation is difficult, the petrol prices are on the rise. The four characters live in utter isolation, and it seems as though the television set they have in the house is the only connection to the outside world. And a small form of entertainment, though we mostly hear the news via an off-screen voice about political and economical turmoils.

Particularly striking in the film is the use of colour, or no colour at all. I’m still not entirely sure how to approach this. Initially I thought that the film was shot in (beautiful!) black-and-white. To me, this is the most wonderful use of black-and-white I have seen so far in a slow film. It is used to great effect especially because we’re in an area that is covered with thick layers of snow. So grayscale works well. However, when we are inside the house, I’m not so sure about the black-and-white anymore. It sometimes looks as if the director has chosen to use a very limited colour palette for indoor shootings. I’m pretty sure that the blanket one of the sister uses while watching TV is of red colour, as dull as the red is.

Interestingly enough, information from DreamLab Films reveal that the film is indeed shot in colour. This means that the director has done a remarkable job with lighting, and I wonder how exactly he has managed this in the middle of nowhere. Rezaee’s new film A Cradle for Mother (2013) premiered at the Moscow International Film Festival in June, and appears to have an anti rely different aesthetics. It may not even be slow. But this one definitely is. And it’s a beauty!

More screenshots:

Daughter...Father...Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter…Father…Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter...Father...Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter…Father…Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter...Father...Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter…Father…Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter...Father...Daughter, Rezaee
Daughter…Father…Daughter, Rezaee