Profile - Ulrich Seidl
- Tom Dawson
- 2 October 2008
Name Ulrich Seidl
Born November 24, 1952, Vienna
Background A graduate of the Vienna Film Academy, Seidl spent the first 20 years of his career making a series of controversial ‘documentaries’ for television, including Animal Love (which Werner Herzog described as a the closest thing to a vision of hell he’d ever seen), Losses to be Expected and Models. Seidl came to international attention with the cinematic release of Dog Days, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice festival in 2001. A dispassionately photographed and sexually explicit study of suburban loneliness and desperation, which drew on a non-professional cast, this was officially Seidl’s first fictional feature.
What’s he up to now? Seidl’s latest film Import Export is his most expensive project to date and tells two contemporary stories, which run in tandem. A Ukrainian nurse Olga (Ekateryna Rak) travels to Austria in search of better-paid work, whilst an unemployed Viennese security guard Pauli (Paul Hofmann) heads eastwards.
What he says about his working methods ‘I tend to collect lots of ideas for my screenplays. With Import Export, I developed six or seven stories, until one day I reached a point, where I realised it would be better to tell two of them.’
What he says about everyday fascism ‘It exists not just in Austria, but in every country. When we were filming in Slovakia, even educated people had fascistic attitudes towards the Roma people.’
What he says about cellars in Austria ‘My next film will investigate the relationships of Austrians to cellars. When I was researching Dog Days, I discovered that in Austria people live their real lives in their cellars, not their living rooms. Recent events such as the Fritzl and the Kampusch cases made me think now is the time for this project.’
Interesting Fact As a boy Seidl intended on becoming a Catholic priest.
Import Export, Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 3-Thu 9 Oct.