DocEdge19 | Searching Eva

Berlin based. Virgo. Bisexual. Sex Worker. Anarchist. Musician. Recovering addict … With such a myriad of labels attributed to just one, outwardly complex individual, ‘Searching Eva’ is a documentary sure to push the boundaries of raw candour and identity, as it explores the life of social media star Eva Colle’ through the uncensored and often affected, lens.

The film opens in whispered and hushed voice-overs on an otherwise blank computer screen monitor.  Self-doubt, fatalism and naivety are a few of the topics that are touched upon, as the voices parallel those in one’s head, goading the subject.

The artistic expression and avant-garde culture of Berlin is a focal point for this documentary.  The city’s strong resonance to the creative and questioning inclinations of Eva Colle’ (the subject) are inescapable.  It is also a base for director  Pia Hellenthal, which explains the strong connection and affinity the city holds for them both.                        Location is a very important aspect of this film.  As it documents the wide disparity between Eva’s homeland – a seemingly banal village laced with communist history, to the liberal and experimental metropolis of Berlin, Germany, through cinematography and sound.

In ‘Searching Eva’, Hellenthal also uses very modern and pertinent methods to bring forth some of the underlying themes of this documentary; with flinching and antagonising statements, like ‘Rotting at 25′ (referencing age) alongside honest yet projecting responses to the comments and questions posed regarding sex, weight and purpose  – all streamed to the viewer over computer screen prompts, in the same mode as that of an online chatroom.

We learn the sometimes harrowing truth about Eva (not her given name) and her unconventional life choices, through frank, honest and open conversations between herself and those around her – from potential flatmates to those with her friends and most intimate family members.

Nothing is shied away from, nor is considered taboo in this film. Perhaps even intentionally, as to rattle the awareness of the viewer so we must acknowledge the situational reality of Eva, and in doing so, also challenge and reflect upon our own thought processes and judgement of self.

Searching Eva can be, at times, somewhat uneasy to watch, from obvious bed stains to exposing the most intimate body parts with such detachment, for her they seem to be just a normality.  Stories of her upbringing; growing up alongside heroin-addicted parents, leaving home at 17 and jarring sexual encounters, are some of the most confronting and saddening.  However, in some ways, these moments have paved the way for the artistic direction of the protagonist of the film’s online persona.

Furthermore, her often bleak and melancholic insights inspired me to search for her material online and delve deeper into the real Eva.

A very creative and honest insight into the life of a modern age internet star.  Searching Eva also is important, in that is also addresses the issues that drive the age of the milennial Bloggers/Instagramers/Tweeters etc … and is the internet a positive platform for this?  My conclusion after delving deeper into online posts and her cogitation throughout this film, is that Eva Colle’ is just like many of us out there, searching to be loved and accepted.

Despite her layered and intricate past, Eva leaves the impression of  being fragile and childlike.  This can make the message of the film confusing, and also poses the question as to whether there need be a message at all.  However, perhaps we can find this in Eva’s apparent ease and calmness in one closing scene.  Perhaps she chooses to display this to us, as to demonstrate her own acceptance and/or a sign of regaining control.  In summary, it is evident that the major impact Eva Colle’ has made on her followers is in helping them embrace their identity and be comfortable in their own skin.

Director: Pia Hellenthal                  Country: Germany                Running Time: 83mins

Searching Eva(2019) is part of the DocEdge Festival 2019 and screenings are at the following locations and times:

AKL – Q Theatre.  Sun 2nd (6pm) & Tues 4th Jun (8.45pm)                                                                                                WGN – Roxy Cinema.  Tues 18 (8.15pm) & Fri 21st Jun (8.45pm)