In an uneasy yet secure way, the Austrian stylist Seidl shows white Westerners on hunting vacations in Africa. They pose proudly with the beautiful animals they have shot from a safe distance. While poor blacks drag the carcasses and butcher them, the affluent whites explain the excitement of a good shot.
In the documentary Safari, Ulrich Seidl, Austrian chronicler of European social unease, shows Western recreational hunting of African wildlife. Seidl, known from the Paradise feature trilogy (2012-2013), has a style that involves tight frames and symmetrical visual compositions. He sets off with German and Austrian holiday hunters (including the Ellinger married couple from his documentary In the Basement, 2014), who take professional guides on their expensive hunting holidays, killing impala, zebra and giraffe from a great distance. But Seidl is primarily interested in the motives of the hunters (who proudly get their photo taken with each dead animal), such as the family of four, all of whom could take a pot shot.
Whereas the protagonists in Seidl’s documentary Animal Love (1995) embraced animals, the hunters’ vocabulary keeps animals at an emotional distance describing them as “pieces” (Stücken). In neocolonial contrast to the whites’ wealth are the poor black labourers who cut the enormous giraffe into pieces in an abattoir.
With a special screening and auxiliary programme by De Balie on Sat 28 Jan at 12:00.