by Philip Concannon
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith opens with a scene of self-flagellation, and anyone familiar with this Austrian director might be justified in suggesting that watching three of his films back-to-back is tantamount to the same thing. The titles Seidl has given to his Paradise trilogy are Love, Faith and Hope, but these are not the words that one readily associates with his films – words like bleak, explicit, confrontational and provocative are more likely to be found in reviews of his work, which has drawn as many criticisms as it has plaudits over the years. Despite all this, Sunday June 16th was denoted as “Seidl Sunday” in the UK, with a handful of cinemas across the country offering a rare chance to see his trilogy in its entirety. I decided it was an opportunity not to be missed, but I must admit that I walked towards the BFI Southbank with a number of questions in my mind and a certain sense of dread in my heart. If I’m looking for paradise in the cinema, is Ulrich Seidl really the man I want to take me there?