A Woman Eats

A Woman Eats

An editorial fashion shoot turns cruel when a manipulative director and client toy with their model.

A set is built in the middle of a large warehouse in industrial Brooklyn for an editorial fashion shoot. The video director and his client walk through a crew of lighting assistants, stylists, hair, and makeup all hard at work. Although there are nearly ten people in the room, there isn’t much talking; everyone knows the role they execute and they perform it diligently. A model sits in the middle of a table lushly decorated with fruit, wine, fish, and flowers. It resembles one of the 17th century Dutch still life paintings on display at The Met.

Without as much as a hello, the director calls action and the filming begins. The client tells the model she’s going to ask her a few questions and she should help herself to some of the food on the table. The model responds to her questions earnestly. The client’s questioning oscillates between the seemingly benign to the subtly invasive. The director offers little feedback except to instruct her to keep eating. It’s unclear what the pair want and despite having her boundaries pushed, the model attempts to maintain an amenable attitude.

It continues. The rhythmic questioning, relentless demands to eat, and continual touching of her face and hair compels the model to confess where she got her first period, how often she clips her toenails, when she shaves her pubic hair. It devolves into a philosophical test, “Do you pray? Only if I’m afraid. Do we all deserve what we get? No.” The model’s sense of agency has eroded and she answers all questions without filter. Somehow, the director and client have won a game whose rules were never defined.

The client and director are satisfied, a glass of wine is handed to the client, and it stops as abruptly as it began. The spell is broken, the model is free. But there is one final request of her, “Can you dance for us?” Without hesitation, the model complies. She begins to move as the crew comes around her and disassembles the set. The client and director walk away and the model is left with no one to witness her dance.

Directed by Sam Reiss (USA)

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