At the turn of century, coinciding with the increasing preference for digital cinematic tools over celluloid, emerged a trend within art cinema for films that focus on mood and contemplation. Films that downplay spectacle in favour of creating a different kind of one which develops through a slower pace and emphasises feelings like boredom and stasis, both within the viewer and on the screen. This trend is not within itself new, but has loose precedents in the cinema of European auteurs like Michelangelo Antonioni and Robert Bresson, as well as draws inspiration from the durational cinema of Andy Warhol and the structuralist cinema of Michael Snow. In this post-millennial, post-celluloid moment a label emerges to describe a body of work known as ‘Slow Cinema’. In part a reference to the Slow Food movement and other Slow movements and in part to the pace and experience of being a spectator of such a film, the phrase Slow Cinema is commonly used to describe these films. But what is Slow Cinema? How does one define a movement which is so autonomous in its character that it demands a different definition for a cinematic movement? One which lacks a central manifesto and unlike cinematic movements such as the Nouvelle Vague that emerged from the writings of Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut is the work of autonomous directors working in disparate locations, conditions, languages and cultures yet still manage to create works which demand to be viewed alongside each another.
Through engaging with the politics of national representation, the relationship between celluloid and digital film formats and the spaces of the gallery and the cinema, this thesis explores an important contemporary cinematic trend; and, through focusing on the historical moment in which it emerged, analyses the way in which how we experience and understand cinema is changing.
Matthew holds a BA Hons in Film, Media and Cultural Studies and an MA in Film Studies from Kingston University. He is currently working for The Essay Film Festival, held at Birkbeck College and the ICA.