A young girl in the US state of Georgia talks to the camera while looking at her cell phone: “It’s Sunday morning and I have 99,970 subscribers on YouTube.She woke up earlier excitedly waiting for her channel followers to cross the magic million mark. A girl in Germany of about the same age lies in semi-darkness on a sofa and watches her on her mobile screen. This is how the documentary beginsone in a millionby Joya Thomey.
What makes Whitney one in a million? She began training gymnastics on bars and parallel bars at the age of six, and at the age of seven participated in competitions that her father documented with a camera and uploaded to YouTube for what was initially a family circuit. When one of the videos quickly went viral with 19 million views, the channel became more ambitious and broader: the recordings show how the girl deals with expectations and pressure, with disappointments and injuries – a surface for identification and projection for many, not least those surrounding the gymnastics team itself. The videos became the main source of income for the family, as Whitney’s father tells: “She could not have continued with gymnastics without this money.At the start of One In A Million, Whitney is 14 years old.
What makes Yara one in a million? She is a few months younger than her, more calm and introverted. When it comes to school, she shares how she dreads volunteering, and feels that everyone will see her shyness. But when you talk about Whitney’s videos, you can hear how much self-confidence they give her. Yara has a fan channel, she edits and copies Whitney’s photos as if she had a twin she named Yara Britney. She tells illustrated stories with the two of them. Whitney says of Yara and her channel:It stands out because it’s different.“
Closer to the expanding horizon of experiencing and perceiving children and young adults full of curiosity and interest is something no one in German cinema currently does more visually than director Joya Thom. This was already impressively demonstrated in her first masterful feature film, Königin von Niendorf. With a budget of only €20,000, shot on the farm of her famous father Rudolf Thom, the director narrates her childhood in the Brandenburg provinces: the film celebrates itself through sensitively captured moods rather than by making the obvious dramatic development broad-based. Moments of childish boredom and dreary absorption.
The camera floats through the twilight on the saddle of a children’s bike and captures the lost and almost intangible thoughts that float on the face of gorgeous actress Lisa Moyle. Joya Toms also completed her second film, the live-action adaptation of the animated film series “Laura’s Stern”, albeit on a high budget, with great visual imagination: if the wonderful children’s and youth cinema of the ’80s by Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin has these days shape Contemporary somewhere beyond retro bliss, then in this promise of German-language children’s film cinema.
Perseverance during a pandemic
Trusting pictures, letting them tell their own story without having to explain anything, this is also the great and quickly captivating power of “one in a million”. In somewhat impressionistic portraits, momentary narrative style, complemented only by carefully selected outside commentaries, Joya Thom proves to be an authentic and highly conscientious documentary filmmaker after two feature films. I’ve also mastered the ordeals of long-term movie shooting during the pandemic with ease. Due to an interruption of filming for almost two years due to immigration laws in the USA, the film makes a leap in the middle, which Thome deliberately does not detail in the beginning and which needs to be explained only during the following scenes:
At the age of sixteen, the problems of the two girls are different. Whitney struggles with the demands of daily training; You talk about taking painkillers on an ongoing basis because of a more serious injury; And she got into a conversation with her father about who ultimately decides what goes into her life in the videos and what she prefers to keep to herself. Writing and recording songs in which she sings about loneliness and the fear of rejection has become increasingly important to her – Thome repeatedly combines recordings of these songs with movie scenes and YouTube videos as if it were a music video. On the other hand, Yara realizes that she is a lesbian, so she goes out for the first time to her friends and after a few months to her family.
What it is like to be admired by many, and what it is like to be admired by many others, “One In A Million” talks about it unobtrusively and with a look that remains curious and open to the feelings of the girls to the end. Thom only mentions that the two protagonists get to know each other personally while working on the film, as if it were a different story for a different movie: the director decides not to push for a dramatic climax. At last, Yara says goodbye on her fan channel, high school is approaching and she’s in love – her thoughts are elsewhere. What will happen next is her work.
Synopsis: After two notable feature films, Joya Thom has successfully created a documentary portrait of two girls “One in a Million”, and the subtle and unobtrusive visual and narrative language is further proof that they are among the greatest hopes of the present German (children) cinema heard.