Free spirits

Pablo A. Tariman - The Philippine Star
Free spirits
Director Maria Diane Ventura on the set of her film Deine Farbe (Your Color)

MANILA, Philippines — Maria Diane Ventura’s Deine Farbe (Your Color) is an absorbing tale of two friends going through late teen and early adulthood blues.

Karl (Jannik Schümann) and Albert (Nyamandi Adrian) are regular guys in a Berlin neighborhood with contrasting outlooks.

Karl has finished his high school studies and is determined to pursue a university course to chart his own future. Albert, on the other hand, is the younger one and a high school dropout. From their outlook, you can see that Albert is the free spirit and Karl the more organized person determined to make something of his life.

Even with these contrasting attitudes, the two ­­­­ with disparate family backgrounds enjoy each other’s company. They are so close you begin to suspect there is more to that friendship and constant companionship.

The film stars Jannik Schümann (right) and Nyamandi Adrian

But soon, the challenge of the future begins to dawn on them.

With their penchant for recording their day-to-day life, one figures they could be filmmakers someday. Their camera soon becomes their own digital diary even as they are clueless about what the future holds for them.

Meanwhile, Albert’s mother begins to remind him that there is more to the future than just spending it doing aimless routines that are in fact  reflections of an easy life.

Suffocated by his mother’s constant reminder, Albert suggests a great escape to everything that is at once cumbersome. With no definite plan in mind, they leave their Berlin turf and hie off to Barcelona. They share an abode and the new place challenge their capacity to survive in a foreign country.

Ever the organized one, Karl makes headway and is soon accepted in one university. Albert the free spirit constantly reasons out his being black and a high school dropout for not finding a job.

When the bills start coming, the reality of that shared abode hounds them and soon the friendship is challenged. Albert ends up in another apartment with a friend who is into drugs.

What happens next is what makes this Ventura film thoroughly absorbing.

When their separate lives unfold at the latter part of the film, you see that one is perfectly suited for the organized life (Karl’s) and the other (Albert’s) is headed for the great uncertainty.

Unable to figure out his future and constantly hounded by his mother’s reminders, Albert reaches the dead end of his existence and cannot find a way to extract himself out of it.

Like it or not, Deine Farbe (Your Color) is an ode to fading youth and a study in choices. It gives everyone a good preview of one’s younger phase and at the same time making something out of that seemingly reckless transition.

In one of those heated arguments, Albert reproaches Karl that he is in fact doing everything not for his soul and principle but simply to fit into the establishment.

True, at one time in our lives, we were once Karl and Albert or the combination of the two. It is a paean to youth reminiscent of the adolescent tales of Herman Hesse in his earlier stories.

The screenplay succeeds in contrasting Karl and Albert. From these two friends with opposite traits, Ventura weaves a haunting tale of friendship that did not quite pass the test of time. How that friendship ends will make you hold on to your seat in nervous anticipation.

Schümann as Karl is a perfect foil to Adrian as Albert. While Schumann lives up to his character, Adrian is the more fiery actor oozing with the fire of youth. His youthful instinct shines in his performance.

Indeed, the film looks like a very personal one. Ventura’s auteur’s imprimatur is all over the story.

On the other hand, the direction is sensitive. The film narrative unfolds with ease aided to a large extent by a fairly good cinematography.

On the whole, it is a tale of bygone youth in the digital age.

Deine Farbe (Your Color) was recently screened at the Hofer Filmtage in Germany and is slated for exhibition at the second Diorama International Film Festival & Market in New Delhi, appearing alongside 19 other entries in the International Diorama category and competing in 21 award categories. It is also set for international release this year.

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