On Sunday 16 June we are screening Austrian film director Ulrich Seidl's complete Paradise trilogy, of Paradise: Love (2012), Paradise: Faith (2013) and Paradise: Hope (2013).
Originally conceived as a single five hour film, the trilogy follows a middle-aged single mother, a devoutly religious sister, and the overweight 13-year old daughter of the same family, each trying to realise their unfulfilled dreams and desires.
Ulrich Seidl could be said to be a part of a set of European directors, including the Danish Lars von Trier (Dogville 2003, Manderlay 2005), and fellow Austrian Michael Haneke (Caché 2005, Amour 2012), that revel in forcing their audience into uncomfortable positions. Over the course of the Paradise trilogy, Seidl looks at issues around sex tourism, colonialism, religious fanaticism, disability, and teenage sexuality.
Similar to Lars von Trier’s use of Dogme 95, Seidl has developed and refined a particular working method for his films, using various techniques to introduce moments of unrefined reality into the fiction of cinema. Seidl has directed a number of award-winning documentaries, such as Jesus, You Know (2003), Animal Love (1995) and Good News (1990), and continues to use documentary methods and style in his fiction films.
The Ulrich Seidl Method
- Shoot fiction films in a documentary setting. So that unexpected moments of reality can meld with the fiction.
- There is no script in the traditional sense. The script consists of very precisely described scenes – but no dialogue. During shooting the script is continually modified and rewritten. Seidl: ‘I see the filmmaking as a process oriented by what has preceded. In that way the material we’ve shot always determines the further development of the story.’
- The cast consists of actors and non-actors. During casting equal consideration is given to professionals and non-professionals. Ideally the audience should not be able to say with certainty which roles are played by actors and which by non-actors.
- The actors have no script on set.
- Scenes and dialogue are improvised with the actors.
- The film is shot chronologically, making it possible to continually adapt and develop scenes and dramatic threads. The ending is left open.
- The film is shot in original locations.
- Music is present only when it is an integral component of a scene.
- The ‘open working method’ also applies to editing. Rushes are evaluated and discarded at the editing table. The film is rewritten at the editing table. Several extended phases of editing are needed to identify what is and isn’t possible for the film. In this way, to take the example of Paradise, what had been planned as a single film became three separate films, each of which stands on its own, but which can also be viewed together as a trilogy.
- In addition to the fiction scenes, so-called ‘Seidl tableaux’ are filmed – precisely composed shots of people booking into the camera. The Seidl tableau (which was born in the director’s first short, One Forty, 1980) has become a trademark of Austrian film and is now used by other documentary and fiction film directors.
See the complete Paradise trilogy of Love, Hope, and Faith on Sunday 16 June from 1pm.
Book to see all three films for £20, and receive a free poster and bookmark.