'Wood and Water': patience for slow cinema

The term 'slow cinema' describes a current of contemporary filmmaking which places emphasis on duration, generally at the expense of action. Characterised by a minimalist approach to dialogue and narration, and an abundance of sequence shots, slow cinema typically demands a great deal of patience on behalf of its audience. Concurrently, slow cinema features a plethora of patient characters, whose attitudes towards the passage of time vary from agitation and unrest, to tranquillity and repose.

In this panel discussion, University of Melbourne screen studies scholars respond to Jonas Bak's Wood & Water (2021) and discuss the role that slow cinema plays in their respective PhD projects. The conversation addresses questions of patience, atmosphere, intensity and 'slowness' as a way of being, considering the potentially generative aspects of waiting and inertia through attention to a film which "embodies Slow Cinema at its best, generously allowing us time to discover the film’s riches at our own pace" (BFI).


Cristóbal Escobar writes about film and aesthetic philosophy. He is a teaching associate at the University of Melbourne where he has recently submitted his doctoral thesis on The Intensive-image: Rethinking Deleuze´s Film-Philosophy. His work has appeared in academic journals, film magazines and newspapers, and he is currently drafting the publication of his first monograph. Since 2019, Cristóbal has served as head of international programming for the Santiago International Documentary Film Festival (FIDOCS).

Duncan Caillard is a PhD candidate in Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, and a coordinator of the Screening Ideas program. His research addresses empty space, silence, and inactivity in contemporary art cinema, with a focus on independent filmmaking in Southeast Asia.

Corey Cribb is a teaching associate and PhD candidate in Screen and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, whose research interrogates the concept of ontology in film theory. While interrogating the work of slow cinema icon Béla Tarr, his research touches on questions of tiredness, patience, waiting and attention both on and in front of the cinema screen.

Dr Janice Loreck (moderator) is a Lecturer in Screen Studies in the School of Culture and Communication. She is the author of Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema (2016) and co-editor of Screening Scarlett Johansson (2019). Dr Loreck is also a co-organiser of the Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF).