Rosa Barotsi holds a Ptychion in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and an MPhil in European Literature and Culture from the University of Cambridge, UK. Her PhD thesis, also completed at the University of Cambridge, discusses the recent cinematic phenomenon known as Slow Cinema – a strand of contemporary filmmaking that makes extensive use of distended durations and the “dead time” of quotidian activities – as both an aesthetic and a cultural product. Rosa is interested in how political meaning is created, conditioned, and reshaped by social and institutional contexts in contemporary cinema.
She has published on class and gender in contemporary Greek cinema; Italian cinema and impegno; the politics of documentary filmmaking; and is currently working on a monograph on Slow Cinema. Recent publications include: ‘Whose Crisis? Dogtooth and the Invisible Middle Class’, in Journal of Greek Media and Culture (2016); ‘Aggressive Prosperity, Violent Austerity in Standing Aside, Watching’, in Contemporary Cinema and Neoliberal Ideology, ed. by Ewa Mazierska and Lars Kristensen (2017).
Errant Visions Vol. 2:
Contesting the Internationalism of Slow Cinema
ICI Affiliate Project 2016-18
Slow cinema has torpedoed into film studies fame since the term was first used by film theorists in 2008. Its geographic mosaic has reframed the ways in which cinematic production can be categorised, understood and analysed, thereby making it both challenging and irresistible to film scholars. Slow cinema is also a unique example of a cinematic style nurtured from birth through a particular form of production – a combination of film festival and European co-production funds.
As issues of mobility, nomadism and citizenship have been garnering more attention, it is important to bring into focus their unwavering two-tiered structure. The most acclaimed and well-travelled contemporary art films have multiple citizenship status, while their privileged access to international audiences is largely premised on European support mechanisms.
The discourse around the ‘slowness’ of particular art films as an antidote to the speeds of life under neoliberal capitalism might appear superficially radical. Yet it implies a clash of life rhythms that perpetuates and proliferates a number of ‘borders’: between ‘developed’ and ‘exotic’ nations, between different class positions, and between ‘quality’ and mainstream cinema and their spectatorships.
Taking as a starting point the understanding that the border creates and is created by complex interactions between forms of inclusion and exclusion, which are perfectly compatible and even constitutive of neoliberal forms of life and exchange, Rosa Barotsi asks: is Slow cinema an iteration of an economic and political model which relies on the notions of globalisation, cosmopolitanism and the free market in order to promote an expanded image of cultural diversity and solidarity, whilst seeking to perpetuate a quasi-neo-colonial European cultural primacy?
Slow Cinema and the Failures of Efficiency
ICI Project 2014-16
Slow cinema, a favourite of film festivals, is a contemporary style of cinematic production that utilises a consciously deliberate pace and minimal narratives with a focus on the mundane. Slow cinema’s time wastefulness has been seen as a reaction to capitalism’s dogma for temporal efficiency. This project proposes to launch a conversation about what it means to do political cinema today, through an examination of Slow cinema’s ‘failure’ to produce efficient narratives. Does its time wastefulness serve to uncover the debt-dependent underbelly of capitalism’s imagined efficiency?
Or does the trend-ification of failed temporalities by the festival circuit and a certain configuration of middle-class audiences not ensure its co-optation by neoliberal strategies? My goal is to show the notions of failure and misuse in contemporary art cinema both as tools for radical politics and as endemic characteristics of ‘debt capitalism’. At a particularly pressing socio-historical moment for European politics, such an investigation will help assess the effectiveness of radical failure as a form of resistance, and suggest alternative ways of doing political cinema.