A special slow gift for you

Even after many years writing on Slow Cinema, I still get the same question: where can we see the films you are writing about? It isn’t always easy to respond to that question. Some directors, like Wang Bing, have secured DVD distribution of some of their films at least, if only in Europe. Films by Tsai Ming-liang are easy to get, but only in Europe and the US, I think. Lav Diaz is a special case. And then there are all those new, independent films from all over the world that struggle to find a way to their audience.

For this weekend, I have a special slow gift for you. First of all, subscriptions for tao films come with a 50% discount from 10 – 17 May 2019. Your subscription costs only 2,99€ instead of 5,99€. tao films have a library of over 70 contemplative films, most of which are available exclusively on tao. We stream worldwide and invite you to discover the new generation of slow-film directors from all over the world.

To get your discount, sign-in or register on tao films. Then purchase a 1-month subscription. The discount code has already been applied. Remember, this offer is valid from 10 to 17 May 2019.

Second, courtesy of a wonderful person, The Art(s) of Slow Cinema can offer its US-based readers a 50% discount to the new VoD platform OVID. Your subscription will cost only $3,50 a month for three months  ($6,99 after that unless cancelled). OVID offers the big names of Slow Cinema: Chantal Akerman, Wang Bing, Nikolaus Geyrhalter. There are also Patricio Guzmann and Chris Marker. Ben Rivers and Ben Russell are there, too. So if you were dying to see Wang Bing’s new film Dead Souls or Chantal Akerman’s Là-bas, this is your chance to finally see those.

To get your OVID discount, head over to their site and sign up by selecting “Recurring monthly membership to OVID tv.” Then click “Redeem coupon” in the upper-right-hand corner. Your code is “SLOWCINEMA” (the code is valid until 31 May 2019). And thank the magical person on the other end, who made this possible 🙂

Enjoy the slow weekend with your films. Looking forward to seeing you on tao films!

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€ 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 😉

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 – THE SADNESS OF THE TREES by Scott Barley and Mikel Guillen
2 Dec – SHADOWS SET TO THE WEST by Manj Gill
3 Dec – SPIN OF YOUTH by Joël Duinkerke
4 Dec – PASSAGE by Telemach Wiesinger
5 Dec – A PIOUS MAN by Alex Megaro
6 Dec – INGANNI by Salvatore Insana
7 Dec – THE PAPERMAN by AbhirOop Basu
8 Dec – THE EMPTY NEST by Marta Hernaiz Pidal
9 Dec – HUH by Filip Kojic
10 Dec – PSYCHOPOMP by Mariachiara Pernisa and Morgan Menegazzo
11 Dec – NOC by Pilar Palomero
12 Dec – MEMOIRE CARBONE by Pierre Villemin
13 Dec – WEDDING PREPARATIONS IN THE COUNTRY by Akash Sharma
14 Dec – A MIND OF ICE by Eli Hayes
15 Dec – AMPLIACION by Jaime Ignacio Grijalba Gómez
16 Dec – CARROZZERIA MISTA by Francis Magnenot and Katia Viscogliosi
17 Dec – QUIRO by Yudhajit Basu
18 Dec – MEER by Wolfgang Lehmann and Telemach Wiesinger
19 Dec – BRUSSELS NOTES by José Fernandez
20 Dec – FROM THE SIDE by Yefim Tovbis
21 Dec – PESCARE by Kevin Pontuti
22 Dec – OD EL-CAMINO by Martin Meija
23 Dec – TO TAKE ANOTHER HUMAN FORM by Jijo Sebastian Palatty
24 DEC – WHAT REMAINS by Enzo Cillo

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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 José 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.

tao films VoD now live

I’m very pleased to announce that tao films VoD is now live after a year of hard work. It is a project I’m particularly proud of. Since midnight CET, you can now stream six selected films from around the world, and you can do so until 31 March 2017.

Our feature films are Centaur by Aleksandra Niemczyk, a film shot in Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Aleksandra’s studies at Béla Tarr’s film.factory. She says about why she made the film: “As for the reason to make Centaur, it was the idea to make something personal yet fictionalized. And Centaur is based on the story of my grandfather who, in 1953 was paralyzed by polio during an epidemic that affected the whole world. It is very much abstracted from the reality, more like a vivid memory.”

Then there is Osmosis by Greek filmmaker Nasos Karabelas, a deeply philosophical piece about life, death, and everything in between. It’s a film heavily laden by a voice-over, which gives substance to the often empty frames. In Nasos’s own words, “The movie sets questions which reflect firstly my personal worries and secondly the daily life of a human being at this very moment.”

I’m exceptionally proud of presenting to you Scott Barley’s Sleep Has Her Housethe young director’s first feature film. It’s very experimental. No dialogue guides you through the images; you have to learn to read them. In our interview with him, Scott ponders about the relationship between film and viewer: “What does a mountainside, deep in its slumber say about being a human being? What does a picked flower floating in a starlit pond say? How does time pass us, as we stand rooted, in the quiet wind, mesmerised by the moon above us? How can we go beyond ontology and communicate in discussion through cosmological questions? To me, the body, and the stars are both one and the same. And the film and the spectator are too. They feed off each other.”

The ebb of forgetting is a short film by Filipino director Liryc de la Cruz, who has previously worked with Lav Diaz. It shows in his films; black-and-white empty frames, a focus on contemplation and nature. About the choice of cinematic slowness, Liryc told us, “Regarding the slowness in my films, for me, this “slowness” is a gift to our soul, especially that the world now is moving so fast. So when you are able to immerse yourself or get inside this “slowness,” it’s like you exist at the right moment, at an ideal pace that the world seems to lack right now. I want that moment to be experienced by my audience while watching my films.”

French duo Ozal Emier and Virginie La Borgne present their short film Metropole, a strong film about what it means to leave your home and settle in a different country, and about how your past travels with you wherever you go. Ozal explains, “There is something very violent in cutting your ties with your culture and forget who you have been so far in order to “fit” in a new place. This is what Hector did, in the name of integration and social success.”

Last but not least, we’re happy to show A souvenir from Switzerland by Thai director Sorayos Prapapan. The refugee crises from 2015 hits the art world; the Thai directors, in Switzerland for a festival, meets an Afghan filmmaker friend who has become a refugee in Switzerland. Set against iconic images of Swiss mountains, Sorayos gives us an individual perspective on the refugee crises. What characterises the film is the absence of faces. Sorayos explained his choice: “I think without our faces, the story feels as if it belongs to everyone and not only to him and myself. This kind of thing can happen to anyone in the world who lives in a country which lacks freedom of expression.”

If these six films sound appealing to you, please join us on tao films. You can watch trailers of the films and read the full interviews with our selected directors. A feature film costs 4.99€ and a short film costs 1.99€. We have a special package price, which gives you access to all six films for 17.99€. Please note that our platform aims to support the directors and their new films. Two-thirds of the profits go directly to the directors.

I’m looking forward to welcoming you on tao films!

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 – The tao website

A major step forward has been taken yesterday with the finalisation of our logo and the set-up of our website. There’s nothing much to see for the moment apart from our logo, the launch day and a link to the GoFundMe page. But oh boy, this looks as zen as I had imagined 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 08.19.02

Please help me share the website (tao-films.com) and promote it. It would greatly help the cause. And please do remember that the Call for Films is still open, and that we’re still seeking financial support for our VoD platform. You can also now follow us on Twitter via @TaoFilmsVoD. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Slow Cinema VoD – Update (2)

Here’s a brief update on how things stand with the upcoming The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD platform.

Work is going on at three fronts at the moment. First of all, I’ve been trying to find a decent payment provider, whose HQ is in Europe (for legal reasons) and who doesn’t take extortionate commissions on transactions. There are some who only accept credit cards which wouldn’t be useful. Others operate only in certain countries, or on certain continents. At the moment, we’re looking at a Dutch and a Danish company. They both sound good, though the latter only deals with payments from within Europe and they recommended we should speak to a separate provider for non-European payments. Some of you may suggest PayPal, but PayPal’s commissions are pretty high. If we can avoid it, we should. Besides, PayPal is American. We want to avoid this, if at all possible.

Second, the programming is continuing. One important thing I should mention is the subject of geo-blocking, which pops up in the news again and again. Sadly enough, geo-blocking is common practice. This goes for all kinds of online players, including VoD platforms by national state televisions. MUBI, for instance, does a similar thing. Now that I’m in France, the choice of films is pretty lousy compared to the choice I had in the UK. Besides, films only come in French or with French subtitles. If you’re not familiar with the language (say, you have just moved for instance), you cannot watch the films. A monthly subscription would be a waste. When I was in Brussels for two months, all I could see on MUBI were films in Dutch or with Dutch subtitles. Useless to me. I don’t speak a word of Dutch. Geo-blocking is a problem nowadays. With regards to The Art(s) of Slow Cinema VoD, we think that building walls online restricts the access to a form of culture which should have its doors open to everyone. Why should you be able to watch film X only if you’re in a certain country? Everyone should have the right to see it. The Slow Cinema VoD platform will make this possible.

Last but not least, from the first batch of submissions I have chosen 30 films. This is a higher number than I expected at the beginning. Most of them are short films. A third of them are feature-length films, which I’m trying to get more of. It would be nice to showcase two feature films per curated “season” plus a package of short films. But this obviously depends on the submissions I receive. For two films I need to check the legal grounds because the directors are bound by a contract with IFFR Unleashed.

Speaking of which: I have contacted the people behind IFFR Unleashed about their project. Every year, some films from IFFR are selected for VoD streaming via iTunes and Google Play. I wasn’t aware of this. It’s a good idea in any case, though I do believe that some films, especially those slow films I have in mind, would benefit from a more focused platform than the vast mainstream-driven platforms by Apple and Google. I’m currently waiting for a response and hope that they are at least willing to speak to me about it.

This is it for now. As per usual, I’d like to renew the Call for Films which you can find here. Just keep them coming. And keep making them too! 🙂

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