Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stripped

Late night surfing on "On Demand" last night really paid off. I was searching Showtime offerings and came upon an unassuming documentary called Naked on the Inside. Frankly, the title made me groan a bit - it sounded not unlike a Lifetime Movie of the Week. But the description was intriguing: "Six extra-ordinary people from around the world reveal their bodies and share their secrets in a unique experiment in search of their inner selves."

Okay. I guess that sounds exactly like a Lifetime Movie...or a New Age Convention here in Portland, OR. But...that it was a documentary - and one made by an obscure Australian filmmaker - I remained interested. Turns out this was one the more unique film experiences I've had in a very long time. The candor with which these six individuals expressed themselves provided such great drama, I almost believed it was all scripted.

-An ex-model with an eating disorder.
-A legless British man in a dance troupe.
-A pre-op transexual (FTM) passing as a male Christian minister in Taiwan.
-An Latino ex-gang member and felon whose actions resulted in the murder of his wife and child.
-An extremely overweight self described "fat activist" who now models for art students.
-An Aussie woman with breast cancer who refuses medical treatment in an attempt to get right with herself spiritually.

The film exposes these people simply and beautifully. Raw. Poignant. Celebratory. Heartbreaking. About half way through, they each have the opportunity to create a video "self portrait" where they talk (or not) and get in various forms of undress for the camera - sometimes embracing their naked beauty, sometimes still struggling with reconciling their fears. And by the time we see this - their nudity both physically and psychologically echoes back and forth in a most provocative and moving fashion.

I have spent my life dealing with severe body issues myself. Food addiction and eating disorders run rampant through my close and extended families. And I typically gain and lose an average of 60 pounds a year in an attempt to reach what feels like beauty. The disconnect between ourselves and our bodies seems like a plague. This film managed to bring the issue to light, and I thank director Kim Farrant for applying a delicate and silent artistry to the material.

If you have Showtime, see it. Rare and wonderful.

3 comments:

splattworks said...

Thanks for hipping me to your blog. It was a treat for the screen to come up and see one of my favorite Edward Weston pictures of all time (really, the guy who's work led me to pick up a camera with the intent of making art rather than just pictures). As a friend of mine said, Weston could make bodies into sculpture and peppers into bodies.

Mead said...

60 pounds???!

MattyZ said...

Yes Mead. HA. I find myself in constant fitness flux, dieting and working out, then having weeks of inactivity due to shows and/or laziness - fighting health food vs crap food. And if you add the weight I both lose and gain thoughout the year - it's about 60 pounds. Not good for me! Hoping to change that viscious cycle!