Interlocutor Kristina Tamelytė
Interview with the main role performer of Ulrich Seidl's film “Paradise: Love”, 2013-03-25
Actress Margarethe Tiesel. Photo by Kristina Tamelytė

In brief: The trilogy “Paradise” of the Austrian director Ulrich Seidl was shown during the festival Cinema Spring of this year (earlier well-known films of the director – “Import-Export”, “Dog Days”). The trilogy is formed of the parts “Love”, “Faith” and “Hope”. All three films of the series “Paradise” tell about women of the same family: “Love” is about the mother who travels to Kenya for a holiday, experience of new taste of life and search of love; “Hope” is about the daughter who sets to a camp for people willing to get slender in order to change her body, and “Faith” is about the mother’s sister whose faith manifests in various perverse ways in her life.

The stories of all three films take place at the same time. At the beginning Ulrich Seidl wanted to present one monumental film but later decided to cut the huge amount of material and present it in parts. Films of this director stand out by the reluctance to reconcile with norms set by the society; he does not fear to speak about “inconvenient” themes. Dichotomies are important to the author: beautiful and ugly, the white-skinned and the black-skinned, the rich and the poor. The Austrian Michael Haneke also loves such dichotomies and similar themes; still, his touch is more intellectual and psychological, making an impact on the mental level, while the touch of U.Seidl is more “sensual” and emotional.

The first part of the trilogy “Paradise: Love” was presented at the Canes Film Festival, and the main actress Margarethe Tiesel was nominated for the award of the best main role performer. Margarethe Tiesel visited Vilnius during the first week of the Cinema Spring festival and charmed everybody with her sense of humour, frankness and sincerity which shined on the woman’s face. The best word that describes this actress is courage. Being one of the most outstanding guests of the festival, Teresa did not give too much prominence to her role in the film and thanked the director U. Seidl who, in her opinion, is one of the best directors of the world at the moment. The role of the actress in the film is really impressive – the unusual character is constructed well, the moral solutions and searches are complicated.

The actress embodied a middle-aged woman called Teresa in the film, who left for Kenya for holidays. Her friend introduces Teresa to the specialties of Kenya tourism: local men are called beach boys there and female tourists – sugar mamas, who buy the body and friendship of a black-skinned man and at the same time become patronesses of such “boys”.

Women performing in the film are professional actresses while the guys are locals who already have some experience of sex tourism. The scenes are improvised, actors had no scenario before the film. The film is not only about social problems that torment the impoverished Kenya but also about women who are not interesting to anybody in the West (who are fat, wrinkled and do not look attractive) and who search for love in a distant land. Still, they finally understand that in Africa the cult of body is replaced by the craving for money and good life. The film is about the human-being’s ability to love oneself despite the pressure of the society and about the search for close relations common to all people.

The majority of spectators who watched the new film of U.Seidl at the Canes Festival this year were annoyed and the theme significant to the director remained misunderstood. In Lithuania the film was accepted favourably – many questions were given during the meeting with the actress. Still, when the themes are so subtle and sensitive, more questions appear. Therefore, the author of the article met the actress Tiesel in Vilnius old town one sunny morning to speak about the film, themes analysed in it and special experiences gained during the filming.

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