Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Slow TV in Russia - 'Война и мир' - "War and Peace" - Война и мир - Читаем роман
Russia is hosting a marathon Slow TV event, which begun yesterday and concludes on 11th December. This is not hours of a fire burning, neither a train journey nor a solitary immersive exercise into some visually and aesthetically impressive picture. It is an immense collective participatory read through of Tolstoy's 'Война и мир' - "War and Peace".

This is actually really exciting. Yes, I don't know Russian, I can't read Cyrillic (thank goodness for 'right click - translate to English' in Chrome). This is exciting, as it grabs one of the important strands of Slow TV which some broadcasters either don't yet get or aren't brave enough to dabble in - that of the long, live participation in something of national heritage, identity or culture. A patriotic coming together to celebrate some sense of shared community. - Война и мир - Читаем роман
The project will feature 1,300 readers over 60 hours from locations all over Russia and the world - each having about three minutes each to read about a page; its website illuminates the potential of such a Slow TV broadcast - which is what catapults it from being an interesting and quirky item in another TV schedule into a televisual event of national and international discussion: 

"This is a novel that covers the life of all social groups in Russia, showing the nation at a critical moment in history. Therefore, readings and plans to attract both professionals: actors, directors, TV and radio, as well as non-professional readers: politicians, athletes, scientists, statesmen, people of different professions, ages, known and unknown, from all corners of our country and around the world. In this way, we show that a large literature unites us all". - Война и мир - Читаем роман
For those already familiar with previous Slow TV transmissions, the marathon sing through of the Norwegian Hymn Book in 2014 springs to mind - 899 hymns, sung over 60 hours with about 200 choirs and 3,000 participants around Norway and one choir in the USA. This Russian project also throws open the potential of some of the discussion which followed in Norway after Salmeboka: Minutt for Minutt

With the hymn book's obvious Christian link, some suggested what about reading The Bible live? Then what about other writings of other religions? Or even celebrated national authors? Russia doing this stunning literary project should really put the hint to UK broadcasters of participatory, live Slow TV. And you do know 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death... (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more).

'War and Peace - We Read the Novel' may help explain the interest this blog gets from Russia. It remains the 4th largest audience for the blog, with April this year seeing Russia top the unique page views by far. In choosing something as uniting as Tolstoy's tome it will be insightful to see what the viewing figures are and how the exercise makes people feel about the sense of their nation and their belonging to it. 

Norway's Slow TV often brings a feel of perceived national identity, and with a postponed American Slow TV production, hopefully in 2016, maybe the USA can create and share the collective experience and identity that Slow TV can bring.
"War and Peace - We Read the Novel" is being broadcast live online HERE with archived segments available, with some segments falling on Russia 1 (Россия 1and Russia K (Россия Кdedicated culture channel also featuring material about War and Peace) and Radio Mayak (Радиомаяк). Look for the hashtag "#войнаимир" on social media.

In the UK, BBC4 will be airing a two hour Slow TV recording on 24th December - lots more here.

In September, Russia Today published an interview with Thomas Hellum, Norwegian producer and one of the innovators of Slow TV:

Slow Television - The Slow TV Blog

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