BERLIN - Paradise: Love, the first film in Ulrich Seidl's excruciating Paradise trilogy exploring the dark side of human nature, cleaned up at the Austrian Film Awards, winning Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress for star Margarethe Tiesel.
The drama, in which a middle-aged Austrian woman goes on a sex tourism trip to Kenya, premiered in competition in Cannes last year. The follow-up film, Paradise: Faith, bowed to both acclaim and controversy in Venice. The final film in the trilogy, Paradise: Hope, will premiere in competition in Berlin next month. Strand has picked up all three films for U.S. release.
Michael Haneke's Golden Globe-winning and multi-Oscar nominated Amour was not up for the Austrian film honor, as Haneke declined to submit it, saying he didn't want to stand in the way of his country's up-and-coming filmmakers.
Accepting his trophy Thursday night, Seidl made a cryptic reference to Haneke, saying despite having received many international accolades himself, he was nevertheless honored by the award.
Veteran Austrian actor Karl Merkatz took the best acting honor for his role in the best-agers drama Coming of Age.
Crossing Bondries, a film about human trafficking from Florian Flicker, took home three Austrian film honors, for script, cinematography and film music. The 3-D historical drama Measuring the World, from German director Detlev Buck, won for best make up and costume design.