The case of Josef Fritzl, an outwardly respectable man from Amstetten in Austria who imprisoned and raped his daughter for 24 years in a specially built cellar dungeon, resulted this summer in urgent new critical attention being paid to Austria’s cultural figures warning of a terrible malaise lying beneath their country’s prosperous surface, and that of western Europe generally. In the London Review of Books, Nicholas Spice wrote about Fritzl in relation to Gier, or Greed, the latest novel from Austrian Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek about the murder of a teenage girl by a police officer. Jelinek had written on her website: “Austria is a small world in which the big world holds its rehearsal. The performance takes place in the very much smaller cellar dungeon in Amstetten.” Continue reading
In the Basement (Im Keller) is a 2014 Austrian documentary film directed by Ulrich Seidl about people and their obsessions, and what they do in their basements in their free time. It was part of the Out of Competition section at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.
Corpulent sex slaves, tuba-playing Nazi obsessives, reborn doll fantasists — just a regular stroll through the neighborhood, then, for patented guru of the grotesque Ulrich Seidl, who makes an intriguing return to documentary filmmaking with “In the Basement.” Grabby and grubby in equal measure, this meticulously composed trawl through the contents of several middle-class Austrians’ cellars (a space, according to Seidl, that his countrymen traditionally give over to their most personal hobbies) yields more than a few startling discoveries. Continue reading
Her mother goes off to Kenya in search of beach boys willing to provide her with amorous services. Her staunchly Catholic aunt is absorbed in house-to-house evangelism. Thus, thirteen-year-old Melanie spends the holidays in a diet camp in the Austrian mountains. In between physical training and nutritional counselling, nightly pillow fights and a secret bout of binge drinking at the local disco, she falls in love with the doctor and camp director, who is forty years her senior. Melanie uses all her seductive wiles to win him over …
In the third part of his ‘paradise’ trilogy – following Paradies: Liebe and Paradies: Glaube – Ulrich Seidl pits the deep-seated human desire for love and security against harsh reality. From the sterile surroundings of the diet camp, Seidl filters impeccably pristine, minimalist images in which any hint of sensuality, passion or anarchy would appear to be a complete anathema. And yet Paradies: Hoffnung is the most tender of the three ‘paradise’ films, for his young protagonists bear within them a spark of hope that love is not just an illusion, but can be an honest and powerful emotion. Continue reading
Put together a subversive filmmaker like Ulrich Seidl with the subject of religious fanaticism and you’re bound to get something provocative. But Paradise: Faith, the second part of the Austrian director’s trilogy about three women from the same family on different quests, is possibly more interesting to think about and discuss afterwards than to sit through. Depending how you look at it, there’s a pitch-black comedy buried in here or a redeeming shred of empathy at the tail end of two grueling hours. Either way, it’s strictly for the faithful. Continue reading
some critic quotes taken from the official site :
“Import Export is a deeply moral and blackly funny film, one that reveals unpalatable truths about the economic systems that rule our lives. It seems like the Palme d’or will go either to Julian Schnabel or Cristian Mungiu – both are very good films, but for me Import Export – so fierce and fearless – serves to win.”
(The Telegraph, Sukhdev Sandhu)
“Every Cannes has it’s shocker, it’s scandal and Ulrich Seidls Import Export came close to this Prize. Seidls eye for the grotesque makes him the Diane Arbus of world cinema, and this was often startling, horrible and brillant.”
(The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw)
“Import Export is a disturbing, sometimes brillant new film by Austrian film director Ulrich Seidl. It was very hard to watch, but I have the feeling I will need to see it again.”
(New York Times, Manohla Dargis) Continue reading
The premiere of the first part of Ulrich Seidls PARADISE trilogy was celebrated in this year’s competition of the Cannes Film Festival with great success. The film tells the story of Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel), a 50-year-old Austrian from Vienna who travels as a sex tourist to Kenya in search of love. On the beaches of Kenya they´re known as Sugar Mamas: European women to whom black beach boys offer sex to earn a living. The movie of Ulrich Seidl deals about older women and young men, the market value of sexuality, the power of skin color, Europe and Africa, and the exploited, who have no choice but to victimize other victims.
PARADISE: Love is the opener in a trilogy about three women in one family who take separate vacations: one as a sex tourist, another as a Catholic missionary (PARADISE: Faith) and the third at a diet camp for teenagers (PARADISE: Hope.) Three films, three women, three stories of longing. Continue reading
Documentary filmmaker Ulrich Seidl offers a provocative look at both Christianity and its followers by examining a handful of true believers through their prayers in this film. Jesus, Du Weisst observes six people — mostly Catholics — as they kneel in church and pray for guidance. Rather than offer a detailed look at their personal lives, Seidl allows us to learn about these people as they share their needs and concerns with the Lord through prayer, and we watch some of the subjects as their faith manifests itself in their daily lives. In Jesus, Du Weisst (Jesus, I Know), Seidl also touches upon how the manner in which people worship is often reflected in the design and decor of the churches to which they belong. — Mark Deming Continue reading