Not available for screening anymore

Paradise (Paraíso)

Directed by Nadav Kurtz

  • USA 2012; 10 min
  • Original version: Spanish
  • Genre: Drama, Short
    • Best Documentary Short - Tribeca FF
    • Best Documentary Short - Seattle IFF
    • Sterling Short Honorable Mention - Silverdocs


Three Mexican immigrants risk their lives every day rappelling down some of the tallest skyscrapers in Chicago as they wash their windows. PARAÍSO reveals their thoughts about working, mortality and the people they observe inside the high-rises they clean.

Director's Statement

I lived in Chicago for a number of years and was always intrigued by its many cultures, often separated by neighborhood, language, class, and nationality. One day, as I was editing a film in a downtown high-rise, a man dropped down inches from my window, cleaned it, and disappeared to the next floor. This momentary interaction piqued my curiosity and seemed a perfect metaphor for our parallel urban lives, separated simply by a barrier as thin as the glass between us.
I decided to make PARAÍSO to cross over this barrier and to capture the window cleaners’ experience of work, daily life, and family. Many of the men who do this work in Chicago are Mexican and live in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods. As we began filming, I realized I was the foreigner in their world. It seemed only appropriate that the documentary be entirely in Spanish, although I don’t speak it, because it is their language and this is their story. Visually, we set out to shoot Chicago as if it were a foreign city from viewpoints only they get to see. And ultimately they led me into deeper questions of faith and mortality, universal questions that transcend cultural boundaries.



    Nadav Kurtz