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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by David Redmond, Ashley Sabin
First Run Features 09/12 DVD/VHS Documentary
Ex-model Ashley Arbaugh, who works for a Russian agency, arrives in a Siberian town where hundreds of local girls have gathered with dreams of a career in modeling. They stand in long lines in their bathing suits and look like they are both scared and freezing. Arbaugh is looking for a young girl since the Japanese market is obsessed with models who are very young, innocent, and sexy at the same time.
Nadya Vall, a skinny 13-year old blonde, is chosen for a modeling trip to Japan. Her mother is both thrilled about the money which will come her way and apprehensive — and so she should be since her naive little girl is lacking in knowledge of how to operate in a world of hustlers and others who have no qualms about exploiting her.
Documentary filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin follow Vall to Tokyo where she must find her own way to a dingy apartment she is to share with another girl. Although promised work, they have gone to some shoots but nothing has come of it; they share their frustration with Arbaugh who tells them that they must be patient. That's easy for her to say with a large house in Connecticut and a job that sends her flying around the world.
The media's glorification of youth and appearance comes across loud and clear in this cogent documentary. It is sad to watch the exploitation of Vall who returns home feeling betrayed. Meanwhile other young girls like her are less fortunate; they turn to prostitution or are hijacked into international sex trafficking operations.
Special features on the DVD include eight bonus scenes.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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