Friday, November 16, 2007

Cal State Long Beach Review

I just stumbled across this review of "America the Beautiful," by the Cal State Long Beach 49'er. They were at our sold out Artivist L.A. Premiere last week. It seems that ATB is a big hit with the college crowd, which is good because they're still at the young age where advertisers can sell them the Oke-Doke. This is a 2 page review with more to come!


'America the Beautiful' examines ugly side of beauty

The fourth annual Artivist Film Festival drew audiences to the Hollywood Egyptian Theatre last weekend, inspiring them with 60 provocative films from 25 countries. "Merging Art and Activism for Global Consciousness," the festival sought to fortify the growing community of activist artists while increasing public awareness of social, global and environmental issues.

Hovering spotlights and the harmonious chords of a live band ushered audience members into the 616-seat Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre for the festival's opening night features: two films that explored the realities and dangers of the American pursuit of beauty.

The first work was director Trey Chace's short drama "Wonderful Wonderful" in which the deep self-hatred of a 16-year-old girl leads to her obsession with losing weight, ultimately resulting in a battle against anorexia and a more poignant struggle with emptiness.

Making its Los Angeles premiere, "America the Beautiful" by Chicago director Darryl Roberts was the culminating film of the night. In his feature-length documentary, Roberts strives to reveal the truth about the American beauty industry from plastic surgery to cosmetics to the overpowering influences of the media.

The true story of Gerren Taylor serves as the narrative thread that ties his piece together. Roberts chronicles her modeling career from the moment when, at 12 years old, she made fashion history as the youngest runway model to be signed by L.A. Models, through her high school years when her career began to unravel.

Roberts shows her innocence in juxtaposition with the sensual and superficial realities of the modeling world, exposing the palpable exploitation of a young girl who learns after years of ego-boosting and flattery that her value as a human being lies only in her beauty.

As the tastes of seemingly devoted designers prove to be fickle and shallow, however, she faces the unsettling reality of being unwanted. By the end of the documentary she is a pubescent teenager who, no longer feeling beautiful, has lost her sense of self-worth.

Interspersed between vignettes featuring Taylor's evolution are investigations into various beauty industries. Roberts speaks with doctors who perform plastic surgery without board certifications, startling audiences with the story of one ex-news anchor whose operation was a medical nightmare. He reveals truths about cosmetics in America, their potentially harmful ingredients, and the poor regulation of these ingredients in comparison to European health standards.

Roberts utilizes shocking statistics, telling interviews, media clips, news articles and commercial footage in an attempt to accurately portray the obsession with beauty in America and its implications. Perhaps the most significant findings were those gathered during his interviews with men whose truthful, often offensive opinions regarding attractiveness suggest that low self-esteem in women may be largely influenced by unrealistic expectations held by men. Roberts shows that the images of beauty propagated by television, film and advertising have taught both men and women alike to value the one-dimensional, distorted vision of beauty as it has come to be defined by the media.

After seeing the adverse effects of such superficial ideals during years of firsthand encounters with the beauty industry, Roberts was led, as he admits at the end of his documentary, to call every man he knew and encourage them to tell the women in their lives that they are beautiful just the way they are.

"America the Beautiful" won a Special Jury Prize for Best Director at the Chicago International Film Festival and also won the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child Award at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. Any individual who has been touched by the realities of the beauty industry in America should see this film.

Click Here to See the Review