The first annual Women and Fashion Film Fest, was founded by Jeanine Jeo-Hi Kim, and brings together the fashion and film industries in order to educate, inspire and examine pressing issues. The mission statement, as per Ms. Kim, “Our Film Fest will spotlight talent, create a forum of women’s issues, as well as, support the creative development of women and students. We will distinguish ourselves through content, compelling panels, and the participation of industry leaders.”
Day 1 was incredible.
In the documentary, Girl Model, the viewer follows Nadya Vall, a young, country girl living in Novokuznetsk, Siberia as she pursues a modeling contract with a Japanese agency that will allow her to travel to Tokyo and earn $8,000 USD. When she and her colleague arrive unchaperoned, they face language barriers, uncertainty of paid work, weight issues and homesickness.
As many turn to what appears to be the fun, glamorous, financially lucrative, “living the dream,” creative world of fashion, in order to escape from tough economic conditions, the harsh reality still remains that careers in the industry are difficult to break into, are usually begun when girls are just that, ‘girls’ and are still emotionally and physically immature. Also, it usually takes a major investment of your own money to get comp cards and a portfolio together, and can ultimately lead to many dangerous outcomes, such as, eating disorders, drug addiction, kidnappings, sexual harassment, and prostitution.
Luckily, documentaries and discussions can shed light on these human rights issues.
Some of the opinions and statements from the first day of screenings and panel discussions from fashion veterans:
“The Industry remains “The Wild West” and needs laws on the books to help sort through these disconcerting issues. Through legislation and collective conversation, change can occur.”
“Change starts at home through education, preparation and parenting.”
“The industry needs regulation.”
“It is society’s fault. Why do these models have to start at such a young age?”
“The industry needs to be unionized.”
“It is a human rights issue.”
“We are all accountable for our behavior.”
“The careers should be started at 18 years old, the legal working age.”
“Don’t take a job, unless you know how much you are going to make.”
This was a fast response to the problem at hand. As per an article on June 12, 2013,
In the short film, “Blank Canvas,” a woman who has lost all of her hair due to an advanced stage of cancer, demonstrates how she handles the social stigma attached to being bald by having creative Henna designs drawn on to her scalp.
Meanwhile, the short film, “34′′ x 25′′ x 36′′,” philosophized, ”Do we worship the perfect woman?” “Do people have to believe in something?” “What is our salvation as a society?” “Is ‘Barney’s’ the church for today? (insinuating that more people flock to the stores, than to church).
HBO documentary, About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, starts off with the “Velvet Underground” and “Nico” song, “Mirror; I’ll be your mirror, reflect what you are.”
and gets up close and personal with the Supermodels from back in the day; Carmen Dell’Orefice, Isabella Rossellini, Christie Brinkley, Christy Turlington, Jerry Hall, Carol Alt, Paulina Porizkova, Pat Cleveland, Beverly Johnson, Eileen Ford, and Brooke Shields.
Main points from the film: “It is a woman’s business.” “It’s about character and beauty.” ”Modelling allowed me to not have to rely on my father or husband for money.” “It offered me a way to express myself in a way that can not be expressed in words.” “It was an attitude.” “It was living in a bubble.” “I was told to act like I was the most beautiful thing.” “I watched a lot of friends get lost in the wave and pass away from drugs or disease.” “We were clothes hangers.” “Misogyny.” “Confidence.” “Innocent.” “Naivety.” “Discrimination. Color barriers.” “Glad I didn’t die in the process.” “Why shouldn’t we be allowed to age?” Woman are everything; mothers, wives, and business women.” “When I looked like that, I should have walked around naked all the time.” “Modeling: demonstrates insecurity. I’m more beautiful now that I am not a model.” “We all have to go sometime, I want to go with my high heels on.”
Topics discussed in the panel: “Diversity,” “Retouching Photos,” “Strong sense of self” “Strides in diversity,” “Beauty the way you are.” “The more women writers that enter the industry, the better.” “Media should promote healthy eating and living.” “Be true to yourself.” “Aging. Celebrate women as they advance.” “Be Humble.” “Be honest with yourself.” “Spontaneous.” “Fearlessness,” and a “Sense of Humor.”
And wrapping up Day 1: Ralph Rucci: A Designer and his House, by David Boatman displays the hard work involved in creating and displaying a collection.
Article by Sharon Abella