“TIFF will not screen the film ‘Sparta’ by director Ulrich Seidl,” the festival said in a brief statement available to the APA: “All public and professional screenings have been cancelled.”
It is now unclear if “Sparta” will continue to screen as planned next week at the San Sebastian Film Festival, as the “sister work” of Seidel’s previous film “Rimini” has been selected for the competition. The festival, which begins on September 16, only told the ABBA on Tuesday that it wanted to continue with the show. “If someone has evidence of a crime, they should report it to the judiciary. Only a court order can result in the suspension of a planned show for us,” the festival management responded to the APA’s request.
According to Spiegel, neither the children involved in the film nor their parents were properly informed about the subject of the film. One SPIEGEL journalist, Bartholomaus Lavert, said he spoke to nine crew members, seven minor actors and their parents in Romania. According to the report, some children were unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
In one scene, the actor who plays an alcoholic is supposed to hug a boy and pour water into a glass beaker. Then he said to him aloud in Spiegel: “He must drink intoxicating.” It is said that Seidl did not stop until ten minutes after the shooting. According to Spiegel, the child himself has an alcoholic father, with whom the mother recently broke up. According to the magazine, the 13-year-old said he was reminded of his father.
Allegations against Ulrich Seidl
Austrian director Ulrich Seidl filmed his new feature film “Sparta” in Romania. The film revolves around a man who has pedophilic tendencies. Now there are allegations against the director: the families of the children involved in the shooting were not fully aware of the topic of the film.
Child sexual abuse should not be the subject of contracts
A crew member accused the director of knowing exactly the family background of the boy who encountered the drunken lead actor during filming. The boy was deliberately chosen to be able to depict true feelings.
According to Mittags-ZIB, a week ago when the allegations surfaced, the children were said to have experienced their trauma on the set. The parents were only told that the movie was about judo and football. According to Fert, none of these minors’ contracts included anything about child sexual abuse.
Seidl: Essay Distorts My Work Style
Seidl dismissed all allegations and announced legal action. Seidl asserted in a written broadcast that in the Spiegel article, “inaccurate representations, rumors or events taken out of context in the Sparta group were compiled into a distorted picture that in no way corresponded to the facts.” “My way of working is (remarkably) distorted and accused of intentions that cannot be far from reality,” says the successful director.
“In all my films, in all my artwork, I demand sympathy for those who have been beaten and fallen, for those who have been kept out of the law and banned: I do not put them in the (moral) gutter, but the challenge,” Seidel sees it as complex and also contradictory.
“Recognizing and describing the resulting contradictions between care and abuse, looking rather than looking away and thus ignoring them – I see a primary responsibility in this – as an artist and as a human being.”
Seidl: Children are never paid
Like all other actresses, child actors weren’t pushed to do things in front of the camera they didn’t want to do. The young actors were also taken care of all the time. Needless to say that the parents were informed of all the essential content of the film prior to filming, Seidl denies Spiegel’s allegations: “During the filming, we did not go beyond the limits of what is morally and ethically required.”
The shooting lasted from the winter of 2018/2019 to the summer of 2019. The fact that the children remained with them during this long period led Seidl’s lawyer to Spiegel as evidence against the allegations. According to the research, the allegations in the Spiegel article relate primarily to the last phase of the shooting.
Legal rules for photographing with children
In Austria there are clear rules for photographing with minors, and they are enshrined in the Child and Youth Employment Act. Three central conditions must be met: Psychological support by pedagogically trained staff in the group is required. Minors are allowed to work for a maximum of four hours at a time and are required to have a medical certificate stating that the children are physically and mentally fit. According to “Spiegel”, similar rules also apply in Romania.
Like other Seidl films, “Sparta” was funded with public funds. Seidl, who initially made documentaries and filmed his first feature film “Hundstage,” is known for taking up taboo subjects and drawing people and fates relentlessly straight to the point. This style earned him several awards, most notably the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Film Festival for Dog Days.
Schneeberger (ORF) regarding allegations against Seidl
Peter Schneeberger (ORF) is a studio guest and talks about the allegations against director Ulrich Seidl. Seidl filmed his new feature film “Sparta” in Romania, which deals with pedophilia. Now there are allegations against the director of ignoring children’s rights.
The second part of “Rimini”
“Sparta” is a “brother play” of Seidel’s latest film Rimini, which premiered at the Berlinale this year and won the Diagonal Best Feature Film award. It was originally planned to be a single movie, but Seidl then decided to make two separate films out of it. “Rimini” portrays one brother, Ricci Bravo, who performs for seniors at the Italian seaside resort. “Sparta” revolves around his brother Ewald, played by Georg Friedrich.
Ewald, in his mid-forties, left his girlfriend to dare a new start in the Roman wasteland. There he works with boys from the area to turn a dilapidated school building into a fortress. This raises the villagers’ suspicions, and Ewald discovers his sexual orientation towards children and has to confront a long-suppressed reality.
Seidl is not only responsible for directing, but also for the script with Veronica Franz. In addition to Friedrich, other roles include Florentina Elena Pope, the late Hans-Michael Ryberg, Marius Ignat and Octavian Nikolai Kokis.