Panel 1: Cinema and Care.

Monday 5 September, 2016

By Zoë Shacklock and Gaby Smith.

  • Philippa Lovatt (Stirling): ‘Illness, Caregiving and Healing in the Films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’
  • Suzanne Beth (McGill): ‘Ozu’s Tokyo Story: Care as the Medium’s Capacity to Bear’
  • Ana Salzberg (Dundee): ‘Care Home as Cinematic Community: Enhancing Social Connectivity Through Film’

 

Takeaways:

-Care can be embedded within the formal features of cinema itself.

-The sensory, visceral experience of watching cinema parallels certain structures of care, and is in itself a form of care.

-Cinema’s relationship to care is heightened by its communal nature

Philippa Lovatt opened the panel with an astute discussion of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s body of work, which is thematically concerned with questions of care-giving, illness, and healing. Weerasethakul is concerned with seeing illness as a natural part of life, rather than something to be avoided. Consequently his work almost becomes a therapeutic experience – one film critic even suggested that they should be available on prescription. Through an analysis of the embodied experience of engaging with film form, Lovatt suggested that Weerasethakul’s films encourage a structure of embodied accompaniment with a film, one that mirrors the rhythms and structures of palliative care, and which is emphasised when we watch these films with others.

Suzanne Beth picked up Lovatt’s interest in accompaniment, using Agamben’s idea of gesture to consider discourses of care in Yasujirō Ozu’s film Tokyo Story. Beth explored how the film presents conventional ideas of care at a narrative and thematic level. Yet she extends this framework to argue for care as gesture – a form of support/endurance rather than a form of production/action. She suggests that this aligns nicely with the cinematic medium itself, which also supports/endures the passage of time.

Finally, Ana Salzberg presented her fascinating research on how Scottish care facilities attempt to re-create the cinematic experience for residents as a way to prevent loneliness and boredom, and foster social connectivity. She suggests that recreating the sensory experience of the cinema – emphasised by the drawn curtains, popcorn, and big screen – allows residents to enter into particular pleasures of spectatorship. This intensifies certain emotions, memories and sensation, and enhances their present experience too, acting as a form of care towards present-day forms of embodiment and connection.

 

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