Off to Take Care—A film festival on the multi-facets of care work

Taking place over 5 days, this small festival brings together documentaries and fiction, films from different places and times to engage us in thinking about care and exploring it through cinema and vice versa. A dense programme, from November 15.- 19. 2023 at Goethe Institute London & ICA to reflect anew on what care could mean and what it can do. And to connect people who do care, but probably in very different ways. Full programme on Research Catalogue.

To speak of care is to enter and navigate a vast and vague terrain—in terms of discourse, labour struggles, aesthetics, economy, narratives. Care work and work done with care happens in all domains, but the crucial difference it makes to actually care, most often goes unnoticed. When things are done carefully, with care, when someone dares to care—above all, this takes time. Time that can hardly be translated into the measurements of an economic system that tends to reward carelessness in the pursuit of profit maximisation. In understanding the value and necessity of care work as an indicator for quality, we may need to turn our value system upside down. And cinema might be a good place to start reimagining the world… .  

Off to Take Care intertwines contradicting moves and movements, interests, emotions and considerations related to filmmaking. How can care labour be framed, to become visible. And how does it need to be reframed to become represented (valued) otherwise. What needs to remain off (frame), to resist representation. Care-taking endeavours on the run, uncaptured. While leaving to maintain. Off, to take care of something else, some business. Perhaps a refusal to care about what’s too close. To leave domestic duties undone and care about one’s own pleasure, to learn. Gone, to earn money with care work elsewhere. And come back later. 

Caring might lead to deviations, deviating from the centres towards the margins. With this film programme, we will draw lines across genres, geographies, moments in history and associations related to the notion of care, to overlay perspectives and approaches, allowing unpredictable images and concerns to emerge, to spark the imagination and overcome care fatigue. To care involves recalibrating, reprioritising, to make and remake decisions regarding what to care about and what not to.

A cinema of care doesn’t necessarily mean movies about carers, caregivers, nurses. The labour of care may only be captured as gestures, and its component of temporal duration usually eludes the image. At the same time, image-making itself consists of care-work. A cinematography of care might redirect attention and construct narratives through a framing of complex interplays. What if caring became a methodology? A grammar.