Paraíso / Nadav Kurtz / 2012

Paraíso / Nadav Kurtz / 2012


Footnotes

I first got the idea for this film (whose title, “Paraíso,” is the Spanish word for “Paradise”) when I was living in Chicago working as a film editor. One morning, as I sat at my desk in a high-rise downtown, a man dropped down inches from my window, cleaned it, and disappeared to the next floor. This momentary interaction seemed a perfect metaphor for life in many multiethnic American cities where the work of immigrants often goes unnoticed. I hoped to find out more about what motivated these men to spend their working days dangling hundreds of feet in the air. ➡︎

I love the idea that there’s glass separating them from the people inside their offices. They’re on the outside looking in and there’s this visual contact. For me that glass was a potent metaphor for the city’s race and class divisions. And the other metaphor concerns mortality. I really feel that the film’s universality comes from the idea that we’re all encountering our mortality everyday, we’re just not always conscious of it. ➡︎

Filming the early morning opening scene (in which the window cleaners rappel down the side of the building and begin their work) was tricky. It was really difficult getting permission to shoot from the rooftop of the adjacent building and once we were finally able to get up there, we kept having to cancel because of high winds. We’d be set up at 5am and then I’d have to tell everyone to come back the next day. In the end, though, we captured some of the best shots one of those mornings. ➡︎


Extras

◼︎ Short Films in Focus: "Paraíso" / Collin Souter / Balder & Dash / rogerebert.com / 2014

◼︎ Squeegee economics / Oscar Avila & Jason George / Chicago Tribune / 2007

◼︎ Don't look down! / Jason George / Chicago Tribune / 2007

◼︎ ‘Paraíso’ and a Chat with Director Nadav Kurtz / Dan Steffen / True/False Film Fest / 2014


Sources

◼︎ ‘Paraíso’ / Nadav Kurtz / The New York Times / 2013

◼︎ "Paraíso": An Interview with Nadav Kurtz / Daniel James Scott / Filmmaker Magazine / 2012

◼︎ Paraíso Filmmaker Interview / PBS POV / 2014


Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s The Limit / WTTW / 2011

Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s The Limit / WTTW / 2011

Angels / Chance The Rapper feat. Saba / Austin Vesely / 2016

Angels / Chance The Rapper feat. Saba / Austin Vesely / 2016