For the last five years, the Davis Film Festival has brought cinematic expressions of exploration and worldliness to the city of Davis.
Tonight, the festival kicks off its sixth annual event at the Varsity Theater on Second Street with the screening of Beauty Mark, a film designed to speak to people of all backgrounds.
Beauty Mark will be screened tonight at the Varsity at 6:30 p.m. Following the film will be a question and answer session with the filmmakers and a presentation by Elizabeth Applegate, UC Davis senior lecturer in the nutrition department and director of sports nutrition for intercollegiate athletics. Tickets are on sale at the door for $7.50 for students and $10 for non-students.
“I was on a quest to understand what is genuine beauty,” said Diane Israel, producer of the film. Israel, along with directors Carla Precht and Kathleen Man, created a movie designed to address the body issues dealt with by everyone.
She described her frustration with American culture’s definition of beauty and unattainable standards, calling the images of beauty society promotes “the impetus for [her] rage.“
Israel’s work with the fitness camp Women’s Quest was the beginning of Beauty Mark‘s realization. Many women expressed the desire to be good role models to the next generation, said Israel, but at the same time these women possessed significant body image issues themselves.
She united with Man and Precht (Israel’s childhood friend) and the process began. They interviewed a broad range of people from athletes to burn victims, psychotherapists to employees of mannequin companies.
During this interview process, it became apparent to Precht and others that Israel would have to come to terms with her own personal self-esteem and body issues. As a professional runner and triathlete in the ‘80s, Israel also dealt with issues of body dissatisfaction. She summed up her experience as “being a great athlete but also dying inside.“
Precht said that she learned a great deal about body issues from Israel’s personal story; she supported Israel’s eventual decision to address her struggles in front of the camera.
“These are people who were striving for perfection; a lot of it was striving for … filling a hole in their life,” Precht said about athletes with body issues. “There really weren’t a lot of people around at the height of their athleticism to support them and help them see that this was a real illness.“
In addition to the film screening, the Davis Film Festival’s opening night will include a guest appearance by Applegate.
Applegate, also a former triathlete, said that she works with many athletes who experience the same feelings of striving for perfection that Israel did.
“Exercise [can be] … the means by which athletes are trying to heal or submerge the issues from their backgrounds,” she said.
She noted in particular the uncommon discussion of the kinds body issues plaguing men.
“Because they’re men, you’re automatically in awe,” Applegate said. “You fail to think that they have their own demons and are compelled to excel much in the same way as women.“
Though Israel’s story comes from a very personal place, the film’s broad range of interviews is designed to reach all people and all types of body issues. Applegate called Beauty Mark “a movie about internal struggle that I think will transcend to individuals in many different ways.“
“People think that people with eating disorders have a choice. That’s just not true,” Precht said.
For more information about Beauty Mark, visit beautymarkmovie.com. For a full schedule of the Davis Film Festival, visit davisfilmfest.org.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.