Česká centra, Czech Centres

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May 1, 2012 7:00 PM

The Beauty of Exchange

Film Club - Ladies First. Free admission. The Beauty of Exchange, Documentary film, 2004, 77 min

The Beauty of Exchange (Ženy pro měny)
In Czech with English subtitles.
First-come, First-served

The featurelength film Beauty Exchange is Erika Hníková´s graduate film from FAMU. Released in 2004, it was met, along with the similarly socially engaged Czech Dream (Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda), with good critical acceptance. The film deals with women and their relationships to their bodies under the pressure of economics and the media. Hníková´s method is similar to the global trend of activistic filmmakers like Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11) or Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). In contrast to them, the director does not put herself to the center but lets her protagonists dominate. They are four women she found via an advertisement – Karolína, an economy student whose shopping habits and bathroom stuffed with expensive cosmetics indicate how much money she spends on her beauty; Eva, a worker who invests her money into several mammoplastics; the fourteen-year-old Zuzana who plans to become a professional model and therefore follows absurd demands regarding her weight; and Magda, struggling with her excess weight with the help of various pills, coctails, teas, patches, or „slimming“ CD records. The effort to change their bodies is not primarily motivated by their careers (with the exception of Zuzana) or by their partners. They are led to this by an irrational urge, an unspeakable passion to fullfill ideals presented to them by beauty magazines. The media are represented by an editor-in-chief of a fashion journal, the other side of the issue by members of an anarchist feminist group. To give more views on this subject the director adds alibistic testimonies of a plastic surgeon and a celebrity with artificial breasts. The outcome of this documentary is not meant to be a „scandalous“ revelation of financial-media manipulation. This is present in short advertisement sequences which are interlaid with statistics about millions spent on the products of fashion industry. However, Hníková does not seek false objectivity. Her opinion is obvious right from the very beginning. She does not use her protagonists as puppets, she maps their different and inconsistent approaches and thinks about this problem. She is open to external impulses which are changing situations and meanings. She balances very well on the edge of objectivity and empathy. Beauty Exchange is not cynically malicious, purposelessly ironical or tragically sentimental with crying moments of protagonists and touching music. It is a tragicomic and authentic piece of our times. ~Miloš Kameník




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May 1, 2012 7:00 PM


Czech Center

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