In Ulrich Seidl – A Director at Work Constantin Wulff allows us to ‘look behind the scenes’, to learn more about one of Austria’s most controversial and popular filmmakers, to fully understand his way of working, both on a film set and in theatre.
What we (don’t) see
In 2014, at the Venice Film Festival, the acclaimed director Ulrich Seidl presented his documentary In the Basement out of competition, in which we were shown the secrets and bizarre habits of citizens who use to lead an apparently normal life, but who, once in the basements of their homes, finally gave vent to their true nature. While Seidl, therefore, was busy capturing every singular moment of their lives, filmmaker Constantin Wulff documented what his colleague was doing in the meantime, in order to capture the essence of his work and his particular approach to the world we live in. Thus, the documentary Ulrich Seidl – A Director at Work was born, a homage to the great filmmaker from Vienna and to his career, as well as a necessary and exciting insight into his way of making films.
Ulrich Seidl is in Venice. Many photographers welcome him at the presentation of In the Basement. Afterwards, the director begins to talk and tell his story in front of Constantin Wulff’s camera. At this point, we find out how the idea of making this documentary of his came about, what basements themselves represent for him and, above all, what he is used to capturing in each character he meets and in each unusual, new reality.
Ulrich Seidl – A Director at Work thus presents a series of interviews (not only with Seidl, but also with his wife – the director, screenwriter and producer Veronika Franz – and some professional and non-professional actors who used to work with him), along with moments of pure observation. For this short documentary Constantin Wulff opted for a classic approach, devoid of any virtuosity. An approach that differs substantially from the approach usually adopted by the director in his works, which, in turn, are immediately distinguished by a strongly contemplative character and a camera that silently and reverently observes what happens before it.
In Ulrich Seidl – A Director at Work, therefore, we explore Seidl’s particular approach to the society in which we live, the dangerous latent fascism that still seems alive and pulsating in the lives of certain families, but also the passions and perversions innate in each of us and, last but not least, the central role that religion plays in our daily lives. With this important documentary of his, Constantin Wulff allows us to ‘look behind the scenes’, to learn more about one of Austria’s most controversial and popular filmmakers, to fully understand his way of working, both on a film set and in theatre.
We agree: in order to fully understand the world of Ulrich Seidl fifty-two minutes are not enough. Yet, in Ulrich Seidl – A Director at Work, the director has managed to capture the essence of his cinema well, giving us an exciting journey into a world we would never tire of observing.
Original title: Ulrich Seidl und die bösen Buben
Directed by: Constantin Wulff
Country/year: Austria, Germany, Switzerland / 2014
Running time: 52’
Screenplay: Constantin Wulff
Cinematography: Johannes Hammel
Produced by: Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion AG, Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion, Navigator Film