You'll recall Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise franchise of films, which follows 3 individual though interconnected stories of 3 women in love in 3 different locations, which will be released as three separate feature films, instead of 1 – Paradise: Love, Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope. The franchise was picked up for USA distribution by Strand Releasing, with a 2013 debut for all three films planned, starting in the first quarter.
The first film, which we've covered most, since it premiered first (Paradise: Love, which screened in competition at Cannes earlier this year), is set in Kenya, and centers on a 50 year old white woman, sister of a missionary and a mother, who gets involved with a Kenyan "beach boy" as the director describes the character on his website, until she realizes that, in short, this relationship of theirs is really just business – aka *sex tourism*.
Ulrich describes the woman as a "sugar mama" who's desperate to find love and acceptance, and at the behest of a friend, she goes on vacation to Kenya, where she hopes to find what she's missing, and hooks up with some young Kenyan stud who may or may not be really interested in her, and who may or may not be a hustler/male prostitute.
As I've said previously, there's so much here to uncover, analyze and critique; It's actually an idea/theme that's ripe for exploration, even though this won't be the first time, and presents lots of opportunities to dissect matters of race, class, globalization, and subjects that seem to have been rendered taboo; my concern, as always, is the direction and POV taken.
And early reviews of the film weren't too encouraging.
Some reactions to the film, from those who've seen it:
From Cédric Succivalli, president of the International Cinephile Society and Cannes insider:
PARADISE : LOVE is beyond abominable, I want to forget about it right now.
And from Twitch:
Ulrich Seidl's PARADISE: LOVE Doesn't Flinch, But You Might… confrontational, often ugly depiction of different forms of desperation and exploitation set against a sex tourism backdrop, and indeed, the audience seemed split between vehement disgust and fervent praise.
Ahh… one of those polarizing films. Got it! Like I said, we'll just have to wait until one of us here at S&A sees it.
But you should know, as I learned this morning, that director Seidl is planning to return to the same territory, but this time, tackle the issues in a documentary instead of scripted film.
Seidl pitched the film at the ongoing AFM, which is said to be partly financed, and is currently in pre-production, with a February 2014 completion date expected.
The film's producer Philippe Bober confirms that it's already been sold to broadcasters around Europe.
As Screen Daily reports:
Treading similar turf to Seidl’s Paradise: Love (which screened in Cannes), The film portrays the lives and daily routines of young Kenyan men who earn their living with white female sex tourists mostly from Austria, Germany and Switzerland – but also from other western countries.
It's worth noting that director Seidl's films have always been very frank, raw and controversial; he had some trouble financing the Paradise trilogy, but obviously eventually got the money he needed.
I expect the upcoming documentary will probably be just as controversial, although, hopelly honest and complete.
As a refresher, here's a preview/trailer of the the seemingly controversial first film Paradise: Love: