A documentary on the modeling industry’s ‘supply chain’ between Siberia, Japan, and the U.S., told through the experiences of the scouts, agencies, and a 13-year-old model.
Nadya Vall is on the balcony of a Tokyo building, pressing a cellphone to her ear, straining through the crackly connection to hear the voice of her mother, who is back home in Siberia.
The 13-year-old, who’s trying to eke out a living as a model to support her family, breaks down in tears. Despite numerous casting calls, there has been no work and she’s broke.
“Home,” she says through sniffles. “I want to go home.”
It’s one of many poignant scenes in the documentary Girl Model, a behind-the-scenes exploration of an unregulated industry, told from the perspective of scouts, agencies and models.
The film, which took more than three years to make, opens Friday in Toronto at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and runs until April 18. Rachel Blais, 26, a Montreal model who is featured in the film and is critical of the industry, will be at the opening night screening for a panel discussion.
Blais was working in Tokyo when she met the filmmakers, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, as they followed Nadya on her journey. Since the film’s premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, Blais has begun to advocate for models’ rights.