Slow Criticism (De Filmkrant)

Una nueva edición de Slow Criticism, el especial que la revista holandesa Filmkrant hace para el Festival de Rotterdam. Aquí abajo está el texto introductorio de la editora, Dana Linssen, y por aquí se puede acceder a los textos que hicimos, entre otros, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Adrian Martin, Gabe Klinger, Christoph Huber, Neil Young y quien esto escribe...

Speedy poison

In this bilingual issue of de Filmkrant we present the second edition of our Slow Criticism Project, a counterbalance to the commodification of film journalism. Filmkrant editor in chief Dana Linssen introduces living in the slow lane.

Just before this issue of de Filmkrant went to press, we received a press release from the International Film Festival Rotterdam with the headline: 'Film makers visit IFFR 2010'. I dare say! But what's the news? Need the Dutch audience be reminded that the IFFR is, first and foremost, a film festival? And that films still are, funnily enough, made by film makers?
What's next? 'IFFR attended by film critics'? Another rediscovered endangered species? That day seems not too far away, since several weeks ago the IFFR already announced their side program: 'Big Talks' with film directors, moderated by such eminent film critics as Bas Heijne or Sjarel Ex and introductions to films by the famous film scholars Ruud Lubbers and Awraham Soetendorp.

Well, skip the film part. By inviting these opinion makers, museum directors, ex-politicians and rabbis respectively to the festival, to shine their light on cinema, by surrendering to this form of eventisation, the IFFR is treading in the footsteps of the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. Some years ago IDFA announced publicly (by word of director Ally Derks) that they considered it more important to have their program discussed on the editorial pages of the newspapers, than reviewed by film critics.

So now the IFFR has followed up upon that model. They would rather have former Middle East correspondent Joris Luyendijk interviewing Samuel Maoz on his film lebanon or women's activist Kathalijne Buitenweg talking to Musola Cathrine Kaseketi on her first feature suwi, reducing their work to single issue-films. And you know what is the irony of it all? No one in the audience will have a clue that besides creating political controversy, Maoz does so by exploring some daring aesthetic strategies, let alone that they will remember Zambian Kaseketi's name afterwards, but they will certainly know star-journalist Luyendijk and best-dressed EU-politician Buitenweg.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out the times we're living in. Are they the analogous times of hand written letters and mail coaches and ink-smudged fingers? Or the digital ones of the instantaneous here and now? And what does it mean when the entire spacetime continuum is compressed into that one ecstatic momentum presenting itself as an everlasting present? Is it nirvana or stasis?
And how do we measure the weight of words or the velocity of thoughts? Do they occupy space while travelling?

Last year de Filmkrant launched the Slow Criticism Project with a collection of essays and texts that looked beyond the latest craze. It was a way to encourage film critics to reclaim the field of reflection and ambiguity.

Over the year the Slow Criticism Project has become a counterbalance to the commodification of film journalism, and antidote to the haste and the hype, a speedy poison for a panicked recycle industry in which most media recycle each others opinions, announcing yet another record breaking box office wonder.

Slow Criticism, for us, is a refuge for rebellious and imaginative thinking, which is too often considered to be too personal, philosophical, poetic or simply not appropriate for day-to-day journalism. Slow Criticism is not born out of dissatisfaction, but out of love, for cinema, for words & visuals, for looking & listening, for the way thoughts move.

And sometimes simply for the unseen made seen, the unspoken and the unspeakable. That sign of recognition between the eye and the image.

We present this second edition as a gift to our loyal readers in the Netherlands and the audience and international guests of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, but also for the online community, being one of the reasons to publish the articles in English. English-English, Euro-English, the sophisticated lingua franca of Cine-English.

And together they also form a sort of accidental manifesto, nailed on the doors of de Doelen and the astonishing Pathé spaceship that turns into an artfilm fusebox from January 27 to February 7, and the IFFR headquarters, for 'Rotterdam, we sure do have a problem'. In the words of John Cassavetes: "If you don't put your innermost thoughts on the screen then you are looking down not only on your audience, but the people you work with. That's what makes so many people [in Hollywood] unhappy. They say: 'Well I'll make a lot of money and then I'll come back and do this later on', and the truth of the matter is, of course, they never do. These innermost thoughts become less and less a part of you and once you lose them you don't have anything else."

Slow criticism is the safe haven for that kind of authenticity.

Dana Linssen

Dana Linssen is the editor-in-chief of de Filmkrant.

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