Picture Me: A Model's Diary
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A raw and personal video diary, charts model Sara Ziff s rise from fresh face to one that adorns billboards and magazines around the world. Ziff and filmmaker, Ole Schell, co-direct the documentary, lifting the veil on the glamorous world of high fashion modeling, from photo shoots with celebrated photographers to runway shows in New York, Milan, and Paris. The film considers the ever increasing demand for adolescent models, the pressure to stay thin, sexual harassment and drug use. This intimate account features in-depth interviews with noted photographers and designers, and showcases personal footage shot by the models themselves, giving voice to those who are often seen, but rarely heard. With appearances by models Missy Rayder, Cameron Russell, Diana Dondoe, and Caitriona Balfe, photographers Gilles Bensimon and Sam Haskins, designers Nicole Miller, Hussein Chalayan, and others.
revealing and engaging --Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
fascinating --Elizabeth Engell, Allure.com
absorbing...brave, affecting --David Noh, Film Journal International
Top customer reviews
Sara is discovered at the tender age of 16. She finishes high school, while her friends go off to college Sara chooses a "different path". She begins modeling at eighteen until the approximate age of twenty-four. For many women this may seem like a life of the best of all situations while Sara's account is not of the stereotypical Supermodel, it is completely her own. In the long haul, her job is one of work, money, glamour, exhaustion, crying jags, hurried days and indecision.
This is not an 'Oh poor me' rant, Sara is at the top of her game while she makes this testimonial. She adds a generous view of her young model friend's experiences which attest to a world of compromise, chasing the big money and being too old at the young ages of twenty to twenty-four. In this world, with the "new crop" of models pouring in at the childhood ages of twelve to sixteen, their years are beginning to be too many and they're being considered as too old now for advertisement.
Sara Ziff is a brave, sweet and quite an intelligent woman throughout along with being highly favored in a world of seemingly neverending up and coming models. There are times on camera when she gets so real that she sinks into honest tears of raw frustration. If Ziff is not running from New York to Paris for various shows, then she is somehow trying to gear-up for the nonstop pace of fashion week. She doesn't starve herself and speaks openly about eating along with her like-minded friends. They also discuss the use of drugs within their crowd and their situations (to remain awake for days, to not eat, to have more energy, to join in the partying crowd, to fall asleep, etc.) while comparing themselves with those that take this route and the obvious results of that decision.
There is much to learn from a very practical and experienced Sara Ziff, especially what path she ends up taking in her life. It may surprise you. She has a solid head on her shoulders and is actually a great storyteller with a natural ease in front of the camera. This documentary is worth the view, even if you are not such a fan of the subject as it is very well-made and goes behind closed doors because of her privileges. We are all quite fortunate to be able to learn a bit of Sara's life and the lives of her co-models and friends. This is an interesting watch that only an insider at her level in modeling could convey.
So far, I would really recommend this movie to people who really love fashion and/or watch Top Model.
The documentary not only focuses on Sara but also includes interviews with other models. They discuss seamier and more disturbing aspects of modeling, including unethical photographers and the constant pressure to be young and thin. Women who are still young, only 20 or 22 years old, are made to feel "old" when competing against 14 and 16 year olds.
Then there is the money. Some of the young women who come from Europe are honest about their ambitions - yes, they enjoy the attention but they are also making more money than they could possibly achieve otherwise. Modeling may be their only hope of earning enough for an education and it also helps them support their families back in Europe.
Of course, Sara Ziff is at the heart of this documentary and her evolution is fascinating to watch. At times, she bursts into tears after days and weeks with little to no sleep. She becomes run down and her skin breaks out (make-up artists work around that as do hair stylists, camouflaging signs of wear and tear). Sara's life is often a staggering, disconcerting whirlwind of travel, meetings with designers and rehearsals for shows. She has little down time. She is cut off from her old life and wonders if going back to school might have been a better choice. She is also the first in her family to venture into modeling and her parents are worried about whether this is a good choice for her.
Viewers looking for glamour and an inside look at fashion shows will find plenty to satisfy them. Others may be curious about what the day to day life of a model is like....and there is also plenty about that. Sara is open and honest about the challenges of the modeling life. This is one of the strongest documentaries about modeling I've seen - and a sleeper of a movie that deserves far more attention.