After several wins for her previous feature, the genre-bending “Mulat” (“Awaken” 2016), snagging directorial and acting citations from the International Film Festival Manhattan, a Best Narrative Feature conferment at the World Cinema Festival in Brazil, not to mention an “A” rating from her native country’s Cinema Evaluation Board, New York-based filmmaker Maria Diane Ventura remains unflagging as a promising new voice in world independent cinema. Proof of this is the recent sold-out premiere of her character-driven European-postcard jaunt, “Deine Farbe” (“Your Color”), at the Hofer Filmtage in Germany.
The said festival, informally dubbed as “House of Films (HoF)” by Wim Wenders, has been associated with such notables as Wenders (“Paris, Texas,” “Wings of Desire”) as well as Peter Jackson (J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”).
“Deine Farbe” is the story of two friends, Karl (Jannik Schümann) and Albert (Nyamandi Adrian), both dealing with being stuck in a small-town rut of predetermined futures and limited life choices. And they are playing the hand they’ve been dealt as any late-teen or early-twentysomething would: by commiserating with their closest friend, going on a knee-jerk road trip to a foreign city, and, of course, documenting everything on camera.
The road scenes are beautifully shot, and the visual tapestry woven between the two cities, despite a heavy concentration on understated but picturesque suburbia, is still nothing short of poetic. The acting, though it occasionally drifts towards melodrama, is an uncomfortably spot-on mirroring of the times. Schümann’s Karl, in particular, is a revelation: a breeze in talky sequences, and volcanic in the more tension-filled passages.
Ventura eschews her previously established storytelling turf of psychological thrillers to make way for a more straightforward, more introspective commentary on class, privilege, mental health, self-perception, self-preservation, and, above all, friendship. But more than an acting or a narrative vehicle, Ventura feels strongly about “Deine Farbe’s” sublime messaging, a far cry from didactic megaphone-isms. “In our current world where punitive measures and grave intolerance are the immediate courses of action for anything deemed opposing to what we perceive to be the ‘right’ way, I hope that realizing we are essentially the same could help us be more empathetic, or at least lead to discussions that make us more open to understanding how people are the way they are instead of immediately casting judgment, further perpetuating a polarized climate.”
“Deine Farbe” competes in 21 award categories in the second Diorama International Film Festival and Market in New Delhi happening on February 5 and 9, 2020. The film is also set for international release.