Directors: David Redmon, Ashley Sabin
Synopsis (TIFF): Girl Model shows a rarely seen side of the fashion industry. The film brings a novelist’s eye for emotional and psychological complexity to its portrait of two women. Ashley, an American former model, travels to remote Siberian villages to scout young teenaged girls for fashion shoots in Japan. We see her discover Nadya, a thirteen-year old blonde, who radiates the innocence coveted by Ashley’s clients. Like thousands of other Russian girls, Nadya sees modeling as the best chance to support her family. She feels lucky when Ashley’s agency offers a contract with guarantees. But as the film follows Nadya to Japan and Ashley on her further scouting trips, we see each one grapple with the kind of harsh realities that fashion magazines tend to ignore.
Filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin (a different Ashley from the one onscreen) demonstrate an intrepid ability to track an unregulated system, and go far beyond mere fact collecting. Their attention to poetic detail — in faces, interactions and environments — elevates the film to a work of art.