Slow cinema is a genre of art cinema characterised by a style that is minimalist, observational, and with little or no narrative, and which typically emphasizes long takes.[1][2] It is sometimes called "contemplative cinema".[3]


Practitioners of the genre include Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni, Robert Bresson, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Aleksandr Sokurov, Béla Tarr, Chantal Akerman, Theo Angelopoulos and Abbas Kiarostami.[4][5]

Greek director Theo Angelopoulos has been called an "icon of the so-called Slow Cinema movement".[6] Examples of the style include Ben Rivers's Two Years at Sea, Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte, and Shaun Wilson's 51 Paintings.[2][7][8]

Recent underground film movements such as Remodernist film share the sensibility of slow or contemplative cinema.

G. Aravindan was a filmmaker whose works such as Kanchana Sita, Thampu and Esthappan have been regarded as embodying a uniquely original style of contemplative cinema where the aesthetic sensibility and philosophical insights of Indian culture could find a meditative mode of expression within more universal contexts of humanism and transcendentalism.[9][5][10]

The AV Festival held a Slow Cinema Weekend at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle in March 2012, including the films of Rivers, Lav Diaz, Lisandro Alonso and Fred Kelemen.[1][7][11][8]

Recent examples include films by Kelly Reichardt, Bruno Dumont, Albert Serra, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-Liang, Lav Diaz, Sergei Loznitsa, Carlos Reygadas, Amat Escalante, Lisandro Alonso, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Pedro Costa.[12][13]

Examples of notable slow works



Sight & Sound noted of the definition of slow cinema that "The length of a shot, on which much of the debate revolves, is a quite abstract measure if divorced from what takes place within it".[7] The Guardian contrasted the long takes of the genre with the two-second average shot length in Hollywood action movies, and noted that "they opt for ambient noises or field recordings rather than bombastic sound design, embrace subdued visual schemes that require the viewer's eye to do more work, and evoke a sense of mystery that springs from the landscapes and local customs they depict more than it does from generic convention."[1] The genre has been described as an "act of organized resistance" similar to the Slow food movement.[3]


Slow cinema has been criticized as indifferent or even hostile to audiences.[1] A backlash by Sight & Sound's Nick James, and picked up by online writers, argued that early uses of long takes were "adventurous provocations created by extremists", whereas recent films are "operating within a recognized, default artistic idiom."[19] The Guardian's film blog concluded that "being less overweeningly precious about films that are likely to be impenetrable to even the most well-informed audiences would seem an idea."[20] Dan Fox of Frieze criticized both the dichotomy of the argument into "philistine" vs "pretentious" and the reductiveness of the term "slow cinema".[21]

The American director Paul Schrader wrote about slow cinema in his 1972 book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer, and called it an aesthetic tool. He argues that most viewers find slow cinema boring,[22] but that a "slow film director keeps his viewer on the hook, thinking there's a reward, a payoff just around the corner."[22]

Recently, film scholars Katherine Fusco and Nicole Seymour have written that the slow cinema movement's supporters and detractors have both mischaracterized it. As they argue, much "commentary posits slow cinema as a kind of pastoral for the present moment, a respite from our technologically saturated ... Hollywood-blockbuster-centered era." Such commentary therefore associates the movement with pleasure and relaxation. But in reality, slow cinema films often focus on down-and-out laborers; as Fusco and Seymour argue, "for those on the fringes of society, modernity is actually experienced as slowness, and usually to their great detriment."[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Sukhdev Sandhu. 'Slow cinema' fights back against Bourne's supremacy. The Guardian, 9 March 2012
  2. ^ a b Steven Rose. Two Years At Sea: little happens, nothing is explained. The Guardian, 26 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b Thomas Elsaesser, Stop/Motion in Eivind Rossaak (ed). Between Stillness and Motion: Film, Photography, Algorithms. p117. 2011
  4. ^ a b Nick James. Syndromes of a new century. Sight & Sound, February 2010
  5. ^ a b c Srikanth Srinivasan. Flashback #84. The Seventh Art blog, 10 April 2011
  6. ^ a b David Jenkins. Theo Angelopoulos: the sweep of history Archived 2012-04-23 at the Wayback Machine. Sight & Sound, February 2012
  7. ^ a b c Miller, Henry K. (March 2012). "Doing time: 'slow cinema' at the AV Festival". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04.
  8. ^ a b Tom Clift. Experimental Expression Archived 2014-04-16 at the Wayback Machine. 'Filmink Magazine', August, 2012.
  9. ^ Srikanth Srinivasan. "Outtakes: G. Aravindan". The Hindu, 12 October 2013
  10. ^ Sasikumar Vasudevan. Aravindan – A Scriptless Creative Film Director. Sahapedia, 21 August 2018
  11. ^ Slow Cinema Weekend. AV Festival, March 2012.
  12. ^ a b Smith, Nigel M (2017-03-01). "Kelly Reichardt: 'Faster, faster, faster – we all want things faster'". The Guardian.
  13. ^ a b Tiago de Luca, Tiago; Nuno Barradas Jorge, eds. (2016). Slow Cinema. ISBN 9780748696048.
  14. ^ a b c "10 great slow films". BFI. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i 20 Slow Films From This Century That Reward Patience — Taste of Cinema
  16. ^ Corn Island, Tarkovsky, & The Legacy of Slow Cinema — Filmatique
  17. ^ Slow cinema: what it is and why it’s on a fast track to the mainstream in a frenetic world - The Conversation
  18. ^ "Hu Bo's An Elephant Sitting Still, Tarkovsky's Stalker, The Godfather, and the concept of slow cinema". Firstpost. 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  19. ^ Vadim Rizov. Slow cinema backlash. IFC, 12 May 2010.
  20. ^ Danny Leigh. The view: Is it OK to be a film philistine? The Guardian Film Blog, 21 May 2010
  21. ^ Dan Fox. Slow, Fast, and Inbetween Archived 2011-09-08 at the Wayback Machine.Frieze blog, 23 May 2010
  22. ^ a b Schrader, Paul (2018). Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. Oakland, California: University of California Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 9780520296817.
  23. ^ Fusco and Seymour. Kelly Reichardt: Emergency and the Everyday.December 2017