Girl Model

As much as modeling trades on fantasy, at the end of the day it’s a business, one that is on occasion riddled with pitfalls. For every model who achieves superstar success, there are hundreds whose careers begin and end with heartache, debt and misfortune. The documentary, “Girl Model,” directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, is an exploration of one such cautionary tale. Following the progression of Siberian model Nadya Vall, the film shows the dark side of the industry; from girls as young as 12 being told to lie about their ages to entice clients, to girls let go from their contracts for gaining a centimeter around their hips. The sobering and at times distressing take on modeling is a must watch for anyone interested in the at times harsh realities of the business.

Following 13 year old Nadya as she navigates the Japanese market, lives in a cramped model apartment and struggles with dwindling finances is at times heart-wrenching. The debate over how young is too young for a model rages on in fashion circles, but Girl Model effectively answers the question by showing exactly what happens when minors are placed in adult situations. Take a look at the trailer below for deeper look at what the film is about and be sure to catch it at the IFC Center.

Girl Model Trailer from Ashley Sabin on Vimeo.

Girl Model opens at the IFC Center September 5th. Get tickets here.

  1. This was a truly horrific and heartbreaking documentary highlighting the abuses that go on in a largely unregulated industry. The Siberian Agency Noah, run by the hugely shady Tigran Khachatrian seems to be something of a front for various nefarious goings on, the implication that perhaps the girls scouted are destined for the sex industry but most terrifying of all was American ex model turned model scout Ashley Arbaugh, whose job it is to pick the loveliest of Siberia to go to Asia on the promise of jobs which never materialise. It was Arbaugh who first approached documentary directors Sabin and Redmond with an idea to make a documentary about model agencies being fronts for prostitution, Sabin & Redmond rejected this idea in favour of following Arbaugh in her job: and though Arbaugh denies any knowledge of the sex industry in this doc it’s clear that she’s a woman for whom sanity is a very tenuous thing, as we see home videos she took of herself some ten years previously as a jobbing model in Japan in which she seems to be slowly descending into madness.
    This documentary is a cautionary tale as well as highlighting the need for greater industry control and regulation – the girls end up in debt, without work or paid work, being owned by Noah models and being used abused and manipulated by Arbaugh and the uncaring, vicious model agents in Japan. The girl who put on two inches on her hips and was sent home, Madlen did this on purpose, so sick was she of the set up that she went through her contract saw the clause which threatened expulsion if weight was gained and did just that. She was the one funny, sane person in a very nasty collection of human beings whose jobs it seemed bordered on trafikking.

  2. this movie is definitely going to receive some mixed reviews but im glad despite it being “business” someone is showing the reality of modelling for those who only think of the glamour side of being a model. its all good when you can make it in the modelling world but like all jobs, if you are not not successful then its hell :(

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