It’s strange and honestly concerningly Orwellian that we live in an era, that although the massive influence and movements such as the Me Too and Black Lives Matter campaigns have changed the stigma and gentrification of minorities; when it comes to occupations, the normal workplace ethic and culture hasn’t changed in the slightest. When looking at the hidden lives of sex-workers, we usually think of them as sluts, whores, and other offensive terms, separating them from any route of humanity.
In Pia Hellenthal’s awe-inspiring documentary Searching Eva, we follow the day in the life of Eva Collé, an Instagram model and sex-worker based in Europe, who spends her days tirelessly striving for a life of freedom. The film is focused directly on Eva’s perspective, her work, her social media presence, and her own personal ideologies. What Pia has managed to create with Searching Eva, is a transcendent experimental doc, which utilizes staged tableaus and real-life text messages, to communicate the audience a piece arguably stronger than any work of fiction. Even amidst some graphic sexual/drug content, the film never feels exploitative nor vulgar, and always keeps focus on what’s relevant at the core of the subject.
While it’s unpredictable tone and editing does become slightly pretentious in it’s exterior nature, Searching Eva’s timeless message and arbitrary execution is a masterclass in experimental documentation. Never have I seen a film, that continuously blows each element out of the water, in terms of sound mixing and cinematography, that relentlessly strives for a greater cause. What can be best described as the “great version” of Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not, the final two shots of Searching Eva defines the film’s relevance and purpose; that feels like a work of cinematic perfection, as it wraps up to an overwhelming close.
Searching Eva screened at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, as part of the World Showcase program. The film is currently seeking international distribution.