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Warning: These films are not recommended for pregnant women, lonely people, happy people, pet lovers, suicidal viewers, or those opposed to nudity or violence.

The first New York retrospective of ultra provocative films by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl opens Oct. 17 with "Dog Days (Hundstage)," which received the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. (Seidl will participate in a Q&A following the 6:20 pm screening.) Seidl peppers the brutality and meanness of his characters in "Dog Days" with lovely moments - all the more sweet because of his miserly hand in inserting them in the film.

His utterly disturbing 1995 documentary "Animal Love (Tierische Liebe)" (above), about painfully lonely humans and their unusually intense relationships with their pets, will be shown Oct. 19 at 6:30 pm. If I could attend the Q&A following that screening, I would ask him where in hell - because they are apparently still very much in hell - he found these interview subjects? "Animal Love" is an unrelentingly difficult, slow-paced film that depicts all animals as being more noble and redeeming than any human master.

While Seidl’s films are a must-see for the brand-new, distinct perspective they bring to cinema, they are also sadistic, joyless - at times deadpan - ruminations on the incorrigible human condition. They left me desperately craving the guilty pleasure of a happy Hollywood ending. If this subject matter is the future of cinema, I’m going on anti-depressants.


"The Next Director: Ulrich Seidl" opens Oct. 17 and runs through Oct. 20 at BAMcinematek (30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place). Admission is $9, $6 for students and seniors. For a complete schedule of films, go to www.bam.org or call (718) 636-4100.


- Lisa J. Curtis
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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