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by Lukas Ladner

grade: 7.5

In Eva-Maria, reality is shown to us as it is. Without any filter. And in the everyday we also discover, thanks to the young filmmaker, an extraordinary lyricism.

Realising dreams

Eva-Maria is a young woman in her thirties. Eva-Maria is beautiful, optimistic, smiling, independent. And she strongly desires to become a mother. The only difficulty she may face is that she has cerebral palsy and is therefore confined to a wheelchair. Will her disability be enough to make her give up on her dreams? Young director Lukas Ladner, Eva-Maria’s personal assistant, documented her journey in the film Eva-Maria, which premiered at the Diagonale 2021.

The director’s camera follows his protagonist from the first moments when she discovers that she can be artificially inseminated. The long journey thus begins. The protagonist’s family is frightened, but supports her decisions. Eva-Maria’s smile never leaves us. Not even when the first attempt is unsuccessful. What is most striking is in fact the extraordinary resilience of the young woman, who has for a long time now decided to leave her parents’ home and move to Innsbruck, where she finally feels more independent, more free.

Lukas Ladner, for his part, as the protagonist’s personal assistant, knows which aspects to highlight in order to fully render the thousand facets of his friend. In a Zavattinian way, therefore, we follow the woman in her normal everyday life, in her complicated procedure, during her physiotherapy and in her leisure moments. And she, at the same time, from time to time, tells her story off-screen. This is a particularly intimate and delicate documentary, which skilfully avoids any rhetoric, which is never banal or excessively condescending, and which also gives us strongly poetic moments, such as when the protagonist, together with the director, observes the clouds, imagining abstract figures, or when the two of them swim in the pool during physiotherapy hours. Hands caressing a belly and the image of a mother sleeping with her newborn child are likewise images that we will remember for a long, long time.

There is no lack of moments of metacinema in Eva-Maria. And this happens especially when we see microphones or equipment peeping in front of the camera or when, as we approach the finale, the director and the protagonist talk about the film being made. Reality is shown to us as it is. Without any filter. And in the everyday we also discover, thanks to the young filmmaker, an extraordinary lyricism. This short and precious documentary of his is a true hymn to life, a portrait of an extraordinarily strong and courageous person whom we love from the very first minutes.

Original title: Eva-Maria
Directed by: Lukas Ladner
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 93’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Lukas Ladner
Cinematography: Lukas Ladner, Gregor Perle
Produced by: Golden Girls Filmproduktion, Bunny Beach Film

Info: the page of Eva-Maria on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Eva-Maria on iMDb