Import Export

Excerpts from an interview with Ulrich Seidl

Import Export was a strenuous project: In the Ukraine you shot at -30°C (-22°F), in Austria, among the dying. Did this push you to your physical and psychological limits or were those normal conditions?

Seidl: Every film has its own laws, and none of them come easily to me. But extreme conditions rarely deter me. I believe that intense and extreme scenes and images can be created only under intense and extreme conditions.

Your film deals with labor migration between East and West. Which struck you first, the import or export?

Seidl: Export. The idea for this film came while I was working on another film. While I was researching a group documentary titled "Zur Lage" [State of the Nation], I became acquainted with an extended working-class family in which everyone was unemployed. Ever since, I often thought about using them as the basis for a fiction film. As for the Import side, for years, I've wanted to make a film in Eastern Europe because I feel very close to the people there. So I began writing stories that move from East to the West and West to the East. 

Import Export is a feature drama shot in a way that sometimes makes it look very much like a documentary...

Seidl: In that sense IMPORT EXPORT is more documentary than Dog Days, since to a large degree it was shot in real, hence documentary, existing locations and worlds. That is, in two real hospitals, real Employment Offices, real internet sex parlors and geriatric hospitals.

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