The Austrian coming-of-age film BLACK WHITE COLORFUL shows newcomers and amateurs improvising. In our review we will reveal whether this resulted in a film with a message and an emotional impact.
OT: Black White Colorful (AT 2020)
The plot summary
Matilda (Clara Diemling) is young and insecure: she is gradually growing up and is therefore repeatedly confronted with the loss of her youthful lightness. And at the same time she is still in a youthful, searching mood. In this search for answers to life’s big questions, as a result of a few encounters she realizes the need to go deeper and question herself. Within a few days, Matilda learns to approach contradictions in every sense of the word with new openness and to question rigid self-images – including rigid, supposed self-knowledge. And so acquaintances become friendships and stranger encounters force them to open their horizons…
The Austrian coming-of-age story “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is the feature film debut of author and director David Moser, whose largely improvised film, which is less than 90 minutes long, made it into the official selection of the Richmond International Film Festival, among others Blow-Up in Chicago and the International Queer Film Festival in Merlinka. “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” was also granted a nomination at the Rome Independent Cinema Festival. In Moser’s own words, “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is about what it’s like to “develop your own voice and a clear self-image.” “Self-discovery and subsequently self-love are essential components for the well-being of all of us – personally and as a society. In order to accept ourselves, we must first question ourselves and get to know ourselves,” says the filmmaker in a short, clarifying statement.
Matilda (Clara Diemling) has an exciting summer ahead of her.
This thematic element comes into play particularly in the second half of the film – and given the presence of “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” at the International Queer Film Festival, it is probably not giving too much away that one of these self-realizations is Matilda’s sexual orientation: As a result of a sunny afternoon With her fellow student Aurora (Elisabeth Kariettis), the protagonist of this drama asks herself whether she might (also) feel attracted to women. At the same time, it must also be noted that it makes sense why “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is positioned as a coming-of-age film about finding a clear self-image – and not as a coming-out drama. Because Matilda’s thoughts about and feelings for Aurora are just one piece of the puzzle of many that make up the weekend full of reflections outlined in “Schwarz Weiss Bunt”. After an encounter with a curious, charismatic YouTuber (Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz), who asks deep questions to complete strangers for his channel, Matilda finds herself in a thought process about her identity, her character and her future that runs alongside her supposedly everyday weekend. For example, she thinks about whether becoming an educator would be something for her, as well as about what she hopes to achieve from her life.
“After an encounter with a charismatic YouTuber who asks deep questions to complete strangers for his channel, Matilda finds herself in a thought process about her identity, her character and her future that runs alongside her supposedly everyday weekend.”
But another motif of “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is the repeatedly implied observation of how bizarre and unpredictable it is which people we open up to and when in which situation: “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is a series of sequences in which people unexpectedly open up to each other open up, let a moment pass quietly and shrugging their shoulders in which they could have opened up, or slide into a meaningful statement during situational small talk. It is possible that this structure of the dialogues in “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” (as well as the sometimes muddy tone) is partly a byproduct of the production process, which celebrates improvisation – an improvised film in which not a single character ever reveals anything new about themselves would ultimately be extremely monotonous.
“Schwarz Weiss Bunt” lives from the improvised dialogues and the intuitive play of the actors.
But regardless of whether this motif inevitably seeped into the film or was (subconsciously) introduced into it by the director and cast, it is a very attractive, thought-provoking element. Because the conversations in “Schwarz Weiss Bunt”, which are conducted by the cast in a way that is as natural as they are true to life, as a whole result in a revealing insight: When Matilda promises a stranger an open conversation and later finds out more about a boy by watching his YouTube channel, than through a face-to-face conversation with him… And when she only really admits her feelings for Aurora, when her friends pierce her with giggly positivity about whether she is “attracted”… Then the picture emerges that ( Semi-anonymity and the effect of surprise elicit more truth than long-held, well-established interpersonal relationships. Instead of this being the basis for media pessimism about the brand “Why do we voluntarily say more to a camera than to our best friends?” “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” maintains a cautious basic optimism (perfectly suited to the protagonist): Matilda may be a bit disorientated, but she also has a sunny disposition and takes the moment as it comes. And true to the bachelorette, played cheerfully by Clara Diemling, but mostly just reacting rather than acting, through whose experiences and encounters the entire film is based, her story also radiates a “live in the moment” feeling. This is achieved thanks to relaxed direction, a camera that follows the characters, gets close to them but never becomes harsh and conspicuous, and natural, inviting lighting.
“It’s a very attractive, thought-provoking element. Because the conversations in “Schwarz Weiss Bunt”, which are conducted by the cast as naturally as they are true to life, result in a revealing insight as a whole.”
Thus, this coming-of-age story offers a charming and casual answer to his questions about life’s meaning, without ever formulating the moral of this material in a clunky way. And what’s more, this improvised film, which still has structure and contours, makes you curious about what Moser and Diemling will do next.
Conclusion: Be true to yourself, be honest with yourself, and enjoy the moment – “Schwarz Weiss Bunt” is an improvised, light-hearted coming-of-age drama that takes us through a seemingly normal, yet so moving weekend of someone searching for themselves and meaning to participate.
“Black White Colorful” is expected to hit USA cinemas in 2021.