Paradise: Faith (director Ulrich Seidl in person!)

Treading the thorniest thematic territory of his career with the second (and most unsettling) film in his Paradise trilogy, Ulrich Seidl gives our brain batteries a full-capacity emotional charge. In this simultaneous confessional/modern parable, Seidl’s uncompromising, symmetric eye turns to Anna Maria, a medical technician (and sister of Paradise: Love‘s protagonist, Teresa) whose misplaced obligation to bear the weight of Austria’s wayward spirituality on her shoulders acts as penance for her own lingering guilt. Love’s exotic horizons and sun-drenched locales are here replaced by cramped suburban quarters, as we witness Anna Maria’s brand of intensely disturbing worship — and the slow revealing of past “crimes” against her faith. Not without liberal doses of observational humor, and a more naturally-staged dramatic design than some of his more rigidly composed works, Seidl provokes an inquisition: the questioning of both our own individual beliefs, and our greater implication in the fate of those burdened by such a cross. Tumultuous, frightening, and beautifully illuminating. All the way from Austria, Ulrich Seidl will be here in person for a Q&A after the film!
Dir. Ulrich Seidl, 2013, digital presentation, 113 min.

Watch the trailer for “Paradise: Faith”