June 10th, 2012
A graphic film featuring a middle-aged woman traveling to Africa for sex with male gigolos has been praised at Cannes Film Festival.
In Paradise: Love, the first part of a trilogy, director Ulrich Seidl explores the subject of sex tourism among rich, European white women
The film had its gala premiere yesterday where it is one of 22 films competing for the Palme d’Or.
Margarethe Tiesel plays divorcee Teresa, who packs her teen daughter off to weight-loss camp and heads to Kenya where a friend has assured her that sex is plentiful.
Soon she meets Munga (Peter Kazungu) and as their relationship develops Teresa believes he doesn’t want money.
But soon he starts asking for funds, claiming he needs cash for his sister’s baby, his father’s medical bills or his cousin’s school, but never for himself.
The movie stars Margarethe Tiesel as a 50-year-old Austrian whose search for love turns increasingly predatory.
Previously a stage actress, this is her first major film role and she appears nude through much of the film and has several graphic scenes with Kenyan beach boys.
But the actress told journalists that she did not judge the character’s behavior.
She said the movie examined female loneliness and the way ‘people who are exploited at home travel abroad and become exploiters in turn.’
Mr Seidl, who looked at east-west friction in Europe in his 2007 Cannes entry ‘Import/Export,’ plans the film as the first in a trilogy about modern tourism.
The director views his European and African characters with the detached eye of an anthropologist. Seidl began as a documentary maker, and even on his fiction features shoots without scripted dialogue and mixes professional and nonprofessional actors.
‘Paradise: Love’ had a mixed reception from critics in Cannes.
Some accused it of reproducing the exploitation of Africans that it claims to examine — or, like the Hollywood Reporter, simply found it ‘a psychologically empty wallow.’
Others praised the bravery of the actors, who are required to strip naked, physically and emotionally, as they enact the characters’ sexual negotiations.
‘It wasn’t easy, it’s true,’ Ms Tiesel said.
‘It was a challenge to surpass yourself, to go beyond your comfort zone. But in the beginning Ulrich said to me: ‘Nothing will happen that you don’t want to happen.’ So that reassured me.’
Mr Seidl said many Western women were looking for more than a holiday fling, a key difference to male sex tourism in developing countries.
‘Women from the rich West exploit young African men. But it’s also a business, and they (the men) get something for it,’ reported news.com.au.
But Mr Seidl rejected the suggestion he is a pessimist.
‘As a filmmaker my goal is to depict things as honestly as possible,” he said. “To deal with social systems, to show them as realistically as possible. Negative, positive, pessimistic, whatever — that’s not really the point here.’ -dailyMail