You know this doc about skinny girls recruited as models from Siberia isn’t going to be a happy experience when images of teens queueing up at auditions, shivering and half-naked, remind you of nothing less than footage from concentration camps. That said, David Redmon and A Sabin’s film is a sensible affair, even if its point of view clearly nods towards accusations of exploitation. They follow Nadja, a quiet 13- year-old whisked from Novosibirsk to Tokyo to face endless castings and false promises of success. They also track Ashley, the American scout who found her – a former model herself, who admits she ‘hated this business more than anyone’. Ashley complains that her industry ‘has no weight’ (no pun intended) and yet continues to be complicit in its deceptions and contradictions. Equally curious is Tigran, her boss at Noah Models, who evangelically describes his job as a ‘religious matter’ but happily commits girls to flimsy contracts and ‘careers’ in an industry that, as Ashley explains, can sometimes come close to – and go beyond – prostitution. Saddening and smart.
Friday February 10 2012
David Redmon, Ashley Sabin