Directed by David Redmon, Ashley Sabin Club, QFT, Belfast, 77 min
‘I FEEL her hips are a little too big.” Nadya’s family couldn’t be happier when Ashley, an American scout touring Siberia in search of “cute, young, not to tall, very young girls” for the Japanese modelling market, snaps up the 13-year-old. The teenager heads to Tokyo, where nobody greets her at the airport. We’re glad that there are documentary film-makers on hand to break protocol and help her out.
It’s a scam, of course, but by Ashley’s reckoning so is the entire profession. She speaks about herself like a pimp, casually describing how the girls she recruits go home in debt or drift into prostitution.
Footage from 1999 depicts Ashley’s own traumatic time in Tokyo, but she’s far too jaded and broken to break the cycle. “Prostitution is normal and maybe easier than being a model,” she reasons. “In other countries prostitution is not considered a terrible thing. I don’t really acknowledge that it exists.”
The directors patiently sit with Nadya and Madlen, her more robust Russian roommate, as they sit in a cramped bedsit realising their terrible predicament. There’s no upside to David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s dark expose of fashion’s underbelly. But that’s why Girl Modeldemands to be seen.