“Paradise: Faith” presented an erotic obsession and religion.

A lonely woman’s erotic obsession with Jesus Christ forms the provocative core of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl’s “Paradise: Faith” presented at the Venice film festival on Friday.

Middle-aged Anna Maria eats alone, sleeps alone and sings alone. Her only company is a crucifix and the religious images on her otherwise bare walls.

She becomes obsessive in her faith, whipping herself in front of an image of Christ and in one particularly provocative scene masturbating with a crucifix.

One day, after years of absence, her husband, an Egyptian Muslim in a wheelchair, comes home, and fighting between the two ensues.

“This film might be shocking to some people, but I don’t think everybody will be” shocked, Seidl told reporters, explaining that the film is really an exploration of “a woman’s search to satisfy her love and her desires.”

Maria Hofstaetter’s character “is in conflict between divine love and the love that she has for her husband,” Seidl said.

“As a youngster I rebelled against the authority of the Catholic Church but I still have profoundly Christian values.”

Hofstaetter said she had prepared for the role by taking part in a pilgrimage and living in a convent.

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