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Film News

Cut & Wrapped: The world's first cat vid festival, new Russian docs and revisiting Heart of Glass


This is the first in boldly confrontational Austrian director Ulrich Seidl's Paradise trilogy - each film of which centres on a different woman from the same family in her disturbingly unorthodox quest for love and sexual fulfilment wherever she can find it. As with his prior Import/Export, in Paradise: Love Seidl lays bare cross-border exploitation by developed nations. Full of grotesque, black-humoured moments but also empathy, the film sees Teresa, a lonely 50-year-old care-worker, travel to Kenya's beaches as a first-time sex tourist, hanging out in a circle of Euro "sugar mamas". She soon has to face up to her naive denial that these dynamics are based on anything but raw commerce. Opening in the UK on Friday 14 June.


Among the documentary goodness at Sheffield Doc/Fest this week is Electro Moscow, a fresh look at the legacy of the Soviet electronic age from directors Elena Tikhonova and Dominik Spritzendorfer. Since all technological developments were rigidly controlled in communist-era Russia, DIY sound innovators resorted to theft and clandestine means to get their hands on machine parts, opening the way for underground invention. From Leon Theremin - who came up with the first mass-produced electronic musical instrument, and who in archive footage unveils the KGB's stockpile of devices - to Russian circuit-benders of today, the film traces the more creative rewordings of a rampant defense industry. Screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 14, 15 and 16 June.

EVENT OF THE WEEK: Cat Video Festival Vienna

Nothing's more of a Facebook and Youtube staple these days than cute kitty footage. Embracing the phenomenon is Europe's first cat video festival, a free open-air screening session hosted by VIS Vienna Independent Shorts in the Austrian capital. Getting their brief shot at the spotlight will be local felines from the German-speaking area in programmes curated by VIS and international cats in videos screened in collaboration with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, as well as a section of Russian CATastrophes curated by VIS Artist in Residence Alexei Dmitriev, who hails from St Petersburg. Screening on Friday 14 June at Jesuitenwiese (Prater) in Vienna.

OLD FILM OF THE WEEK: Heart of Glass

Adding to the pool of numerous, legendary tales about the batshit-crazy nature of many Werner Herzog film sets, the German director's 1976 drama Heart of Glass was shot while the actors were under hypnosis. They gave bizarre performances, which Herzog intended to reflect the trancelike state of the story's townspeople. The film centres on a glassblowing factory in 18th-Century Bavaria that produces a brilliant red ruby glass. When the foreman dies, the secret to making it is lost. The local baron and factory-owner, believing the glass to have magical properties, soon spiral into madness along with the rest of the villagers. Screening at London's BFI Southbank on June 18 and 22.