…I went to see the documentary “Girl Model” at the IFC. The film follows 13-year-old Russian teen Nadya as she embarks on her modelling career in Japan. The highlight of which is sleeping in a bunk bed with no money for food.
I was one of only two people in the tiny theater. The other guy may or may not have been masturbating. The opening scene is a room full of prepubescent Siberian girls in tiny bikinis. So either that, or he was rhythmically writing on a note pad wearing a nylon jacket on an 80 degree day.
Which is pretty much what all the men in the documentary are doing. If not on camera.
Poor, wide-eyed Nadya is almost devoid of personality, even when crying down the phone to her parents. The real star of the show is the talent scout, Ashley. The only thing I am going to tell you about her is that she has a huge house in Connecticut in which she keeps her last two life sized baby dolls. The others she “dissected.”
There’s nothing to give away here. It’s a exploitative, pervy industry, full of predators. The very first scenes highlight the filament sized line between modelling and prostitution. Hundreds, if not thousands of young women turn up all across Russia for these model scouts. And by Ashley’s count only 30 or so will make it to Japan with her. Through her Klonopin drawl she tells us how if the girls can’t model they will look to prostitution. But then with radiant self-delusion, she says that she doesn’t believe in all that. Ashley’s brokenness is the real testament to the ugliness of the business. Watching her becomes more and more harrowing and she feeds these little strips of Russian meat into the grinder.
The documentary’s website here