the rest of what
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I remember having read the details of the Fritzl Case with relish. The face of that sinister Austrian whose first name, Josef, did not seem appropriate for him, drew me like a magnet. I remember less that of his daughter and main victim, Elisabeth, locked up and raped for 24 years in which she gave birth to seven babies. Before, I had been haunted by the story of another Austrian girl locked up (this time by a captor outside her family), Natascha Kampusch, who managed to escape after eight years of captivity. Hardly comparable in horror, these crimes took place in a place that, watching “In the basement”, a documentary directed by Ulrich Seidi, which has been recommended to me since its premiere in 2014, is verified as a favorite in Austria. With the premise of showing the relationship of some Austrians with their basements, it displays very different universes and, despite the very long, fixed and frontal shots, it is captivating. It gives the impression of wanting to condense something that could go along the side of the very complex identity of a country, through what is kept in the shadows, what is embarrassing, but there it is.

There is a group of nostalgic Nazis who get together to get drunk and tell dirty jokes

There is everything from a group of nostalgic Nazis who get together to get drunk and tell dirty jokes, to Islamophobes who practice underground shooting, and there is, of course, sex. Situations that include both a couple made up of a dominatrix and a husband who asks to be hung by the genitals, as well as the masochist Sabine, who appears on camera tied up shibari-style to tell how much she enjoys being slapped, whipped, hurt and insulted. With it, Seidi takes real advantage of the perpetuity of her shots: he shows her naked and tied up, bragging about having sent a boyfriend to jail after reporting him for mistreatment! By the end of her speech, Sabine is also proud to work for the Catholic Caritas, counseling women victims of domestic violence…

In the basement led me to wonder if there is a favorite scene in Argentina for the disgraceful, what we don’t want to show, even though, to a certain extent, it constitutes us. I didn’t find an answer. Perhaps it is because, in the absence of basements, we have chosen to leave our shame exposed, in full view of anyone who wants to meddle with them.

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