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Title: The aesthetics of absence and duration in the post-trauma cinema of Lav Diaz
Author: Mai, Nadin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 8069
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2015
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Aiming to make an intervention in both emerging Slow Cinema and classical Trauma Cinema scholarship, this thesis demonstrates the ways in which the post-trauma cinema of Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz merges aesthetics of cinematic slowness with narratives of post-trauma in his films Melancholia (2008), Death in the Land of Encantos (2007) and Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (2012). Diaz has been repeatedly considered as representative of what Jonathan Romney termed in 2004 “Slow Cinema”. The director uses cinematic slowness for an alternative approach to an on-screen representation of post-trauma. Contrary to popular trauma cinema, Diaz’s portrait of individual and collective trauma focuses not on the instantenaeity but on the duration of trauma. In considering trauma as a condition and not as an event, Diaz challenges the standard aesthetical techniques used in contemporary Trauma Cinema, as highlighted by Janet Walker (2001, 2005), Susannah Radstone (2001), Roger Luckhurst (2008) and others. Diaz’s films focus instead on trauma’s latency period, the depletion of a survivor’s resources, and a character’s slow psychological breakdown. Slow Cinema scholarship has so far focused largely on the films’ aesthetics and their alleged opposition to mainstream cinema. Little work has been done in connecting the films’ form to their content. Furthermore, Trauma Cinema scholarship, as trauma films themselves, has been based on the immediate and most radical signs of post-trauma, which are characterised by instantaneity; flashbacks, sudden fears of death and sensorial overstimulation. Following Lutz Koepnick’s argument that slowness offers “intriguing perspectives” (Koepnick, 2014: 191) on how trauma can be represented in art, this thesis seeks to consider the equally important aspects of trauma duration, trauma’s latency period and the slow development of characteristic symptoms. With the present work, I expand on current notions of Trauma Cinema, which places emphasis on speed and the unpredictability of intrusive memories. Furthermore, I aim to broaden the area of Slow Cinema studies, which has so far been largely focused on the films’ respective aesthetics, by bridging form and content of the films under investigation. Rather than seeing Diaz’s slow films in isolation as a phenomenon of Slow Cinema, I seek to connect them to the existing scholarship of Trauma Cinema studies, thereby opening up a reading of his films.
Supervisor: Neely, Sarah ; Lovatt, Philippa Sponsor: Stirling University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: film ; Slow Cinema ; cinema ; Lav Diaz ; Philippines ; history ; memory ; trauma ; PTSD ; concentrationary ; terror ; extrajudicial killings ; torture ; rape ; post-trauma ; Death in the Land of Encantos ; Melancholia ; Florentina Hubaldo CTE ; Trauma Cinema ; Janet Walker ; Roger Luckhurst ; Susannah Radstone ; aesthetics ; duration ; absence ; latency period ; instantaneity ; flashbacks ; anxiety ; Cathy Caruth ; Raya Morag ; failed witnessing ; Trauma Studies ; Philippine Cinema ; trauma therapy ; sound ; silence ; framing ; ghosts ; haunting ; Béla Tarr ; Tsai Ming-liang ; Apichatpong Weerasethakul ; Ari Folman ; Rithy Panh ; Waltz with Bashir ; time ; long-take ; colonialism ; oppression ; psyche ; poverty ; Martial Law ; l’univers concentrationnaire ; hamlets ; speed ; off-screen space ; temporality ; power ; psychological warfare ; mental paralysis ; the disappeared ; chronic trauma ; backstory wounds ; repetition ; circularity ; post-traumatic cinema ; death ; depletion ; ethics ; atrocity ; painting ; landscape painting ; Rückenfigur ; Chinese painting ; accousmêtre ; accousmatic ; mourning ; grief ; Diaz, Lav, 1958- (Filmmaker) ; Motion picture producers and directors--Philippines