Our favourite Austrian provocateur (and there's a couple of them) Ulrich Seidl could be described, as Time Out recently stated, as 'the kind of cinematic misanthrope who makes Lars Von Trier seem like Pollyanna'. Even Werner Herzog has said 'never before in cinema have I been able to look straight into hell'.
They are both pretty accurate descriptions - and while his work may be unflinching at times it is always completely, utterly compelling. Seidl shows the hells that all human beings create for themselves as well as profound humanity.
This month we welcome not one, but three new films from Ulrich Seidl. Watershed's relationship with Seidl goes back to 2007, when our Head of Programme Mark Cosgrove was introduced to his work by artist/filmmaker John Smith, an experience that led him to curate a retrospective on the director the following year.
Mark expands more on his discovery in his June Introduction and reflects on the director's uncompromising style:
"Ulrich Seidl is to filmmaking what Goya is to painting: fearlessly depicting the contemporary reality that surround him, bringing us face to face with the uncomfortable truths, frailties and imperfections of the human condition that in effect mark out our very humanity."
Seidl visited Watershed in 2008, and at our Q&A (which you can watch below) he spoke of his plans for his next work, Paradise, an epic film about three women in the same family at a crossroads. In the intervening years Paradise has evolved into Paradise: Love (about a middle aged woman who travels to Kenya for sex), Paradise: Faith (about a devout Christian's anguish as she battles with her Muslim paraplegic husband) and Paradise: Hope (which focuses on an overweight teen's experience of a diet camp and first crush), three separate films that explore modern love.
Paradise: Love, which opens for at least 2 weeks from Friday, is a characteristically explicit, unflinching look at the European phenomenon of sex tourism. Bored, chubby hausfrau Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel - brilliant) travels to Kenya to take advantage of the hot young 'beach boy' locals who will sleep with her for money. But Teresa is looking for something more - something like love - and, of course, that is the one thing not for sale in this bizarre meat market. Exploitation, it turns out, is a two-way street, and things don't exactly go to plan.
As ever with a film from Ulrich Seidl the Paradise Trilogy tests our presumptions about age, race, class and gender, and will shock some. We think the three films deserve to be seen close to each other, so we've programmed Seidl Sunday on Sun 16 June, where you can see Paradise: Love at 14:30 as well as the second in the trilogy (Paradise: Faith) and the final part (Paradise: Hope) at 17:20 and 20:20 respectively. You can see all three films for the special price of £15.00 full / £12.00 concessions - we guarantee Seidl Sunday will leave you thinking.
"Sunday is a ticket to Paradise indeed - I assure you that watching three new Ulrich Seidl films in one day will be a one of a kind of experience and I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of them."