Searching Eva (Pia Hellenthal 2019) Germany

Reviewed by T Romaine. Viewed at AFI Film Festival.

Searching Eva Poster

Searching Eva is a documentary exploration of the lief of Eva Collé, a social media sensation who lives in Germany, is a sex worker and fashion art model. Eva is an open book online. She presents herself with such truth and vulnerability that she is conversely a very strong person.

The opening shot is a title card stating “The Film Starts Now”. The entire film is about breaking the Fourth Wall with Eva speaking both directly to the camera and acknowledging the camera in the room when interacting with others. In two scenes, Eva is naked laying in bed staring at the camera while the John she serviced gets dressed and gives her money. Her social media has the same unpolished and raw disclosure. There are many scenes with typed questions and comments from followers and responders of her social media, both harsh and praising.

Another film in the genre of exposing a raw, inner life and motivations is Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Kirby Dick 1997), a documentary that explores painful, family dynamics is Stories We tell (Sarah Polley 2012) and a esoteric documentary that showed a non-glamorized life of club kids and the punk scene was Mondo New York (Harvey Nikolai Keith 1988).

The AFI presenter stated that Eva is her “dead name” meaning that Eva had transitioned to a man with the name Adam. There are no references to this transition online and Eva’s Instagram @warvariation is the same with her Eva identity. In the film, in small type Eva says “I wish we didn’t need names”. That pretty much sums it up. How we classify, compartmentalize and quantity others is a fallacy.

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