METANOIA

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by Astrid Rothaug

grade: 7

Metanoia is clearly inspired by what has been realised around the world, but does not look for its own marked style at all costs. The protagonist’s story and the pictures we see on the screen take the form, in fact, almost of a stream of consciousness. The young director lets herself be carried away – with maturity and self-awareness – by the thoughts and perceptions of her main character, giving them shape and colour.

New perspectives

Is seeing the world in colour really that simple? Not always. And in fact, as we all know, it all depends on how we observe what surrounds us. It is a story we have heard many times before, it is about seeing the glass half full or half empty. Not everyone, therefore, is able to fully enjoy all the colours of the world. Not even the protagonist of the animated short film Metanoia, directed by the young painter, writer and filmmaker Astrid Rothaug in 2021 and premiered at the Youki Film Festival 2021.

A young woman sees the world totally black. One day, however, she finds herself in a kind of enchanted forest, where she meets a bizarre squirrel. Can this cute little animal solve her problem and enable the woman to finally see the world in colour? Perhaps not even a pair of pink glasses will be enough, but the protagonist will have to learn to discover by herself all the colours that the reality around her has to offer.

Although animation cinema is not widespread in Austria, there are still authors who devote themselves to this art and, at the same time, enjoy experimenting with new film languages. Just think, for example, of short films by Virgil Widrich, Bady Minck, Nana Swiczinsky, but also by the famous painter Maria Lassnig. Yet, animation is an undoubtedly fascinating genre, which is not only aimed at children and which allows almost more than any other film genre to give free rein to the imagination and to ‘play’ at will with images, lights and colours.

Speaking of colours, then, Metanoia shows us that in order to change the world we live in, we must first change ourselves. Or, at any rate, our perception of the world. The black and white two-dimensional pictures accompany us into a forest. A forest that symbolises the unconscious, dreams, every conceivable secret. Everything is shown to us through the point of view of the protagonist. Just like her, the spectator is confused, surprised, does not know what is going to happen. Then, suddenly, the screen turns pink. To see all the colours, however, it will still take some time.

Astrid Rothaug enjoys playing with pictures, which are now reminiscent of the screen of an old TV set, now of simple, well-defined sketches. Pictures that, from time to time, take on the most disparate forms and never remain unchanged. Metanoia, then, is clearly inspired by what has been realised around the world (it is impossible not to think, for example, of French animation cinema, but also of the famous scene of the pink elephants in Disney’s masterpiece Dumbo), but it does not at all costs look for its own marked style. The protagonist’s story and the pictures we see on the screen take the form, in fact, almost of a stream of consciousness. The young director lets herself be carried away – with maturity and self-awareness – by the thoughts and perceptions of her main character, giving them shape and colour. The end result is a small but interesting experiment that shows us a difficult introspective journey. A short film that, in just nine minutes, gives us undoubtedly fascinating pictures. The debut of an artist with a lot of potential, even if there is still a long way to go.

Original title: Metanoia
Directed by: Astrid Rothaug
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 9’
Genre: animation, experimental
Screenplay: Astrid Rothaug
Cinematography: Astrid Rothaug
Produced by: Astrid Rothaug

Info: the page of Metanoia on the website of Astrid Rothaug; the page of Metanoia on the website of the Youki Film Festival