When and Where:
Wednesday, February 22nd at 7:00pm
at The Gallery Hall (across from the Nickle Galleries) in Taylor Family Digital Library
Blessed with breathtaking landscapes and abundant natural resources, the South American country of Venezuela has also become renowned in recent years as the home to uniquely beautiful women celebrated in international beauty pageants. Indeed, Venezuela has claimed title to more global beauty competitions than any other nation in the world, successfully taking 6 Miss Universe, 6 Miss World, and 5 Miss International crowns.
The success of Venezuela’s pageant stars on the world stage has instilled an immense sense of national pride, while spawning an all-consuming obsession with physical appearance, and a desire by millions of Venezuelan girls to be a Miss.
Yet behind the glamor and fame that accompanies the pageants, there lies a more sobering portrait of what it means to be a woman in this Caribbean nation.
While millions of dollars are pumped every year into countless local and regional beauty contests and the powerful media interests that drive the industry forward invest massive resources in instilling the image of Miss Venezuela in the minds of young girls, essential services for women in the country are severely lacking, domestic violence is rampant, teen pregnancy is staggering, and deaths resulting from botched cosmetic surgeries are commonplace.
To be a Miss is a feature-length documentary journey that takes the viewer through the inner workings of Venezuela’s beauty factory, exploring the hopes and dreams of young models as they strive to become the next Miss Venezuela. Following three central protagonists, the film exposes the risks and rewards associated with this multi-billion dollar industry while showing how nationalism, personal ambition, and the influence of mass media have transformed the lives of ordinary women in the country.
“The Venezuelan people’s first experience with democracy came about through a beauty contest. In this Latin American country, which was still a dictatorship in the 1950s, it was a novelty for a working-class beauty queen to beat a rival from the elite. Now, beauty contests are big business in Venezuela. To Be a Miss showcases the coaches, agencies, plastic surgeons and even a manufacturer of the hotly contested beauty queens’ crowns. But above all we see the young women trying to escape the poverty of everyday life by competing in beauty contests. In a small room shared by two sisters and a cousin, a Barbie doll hangs like a trophy on the wall. This is the sisters’ goal: to achieve the Barbie look. They go to the gym twice a day, eat far too little and take part in countless competitions. The success of Venezuelan women in international beauty pageants encourages them to hope for a better future. Nevertheless, there are also critical voices from the university – not surprising when we see the preliminary rounds of a contest being held in a plastic surgery practice.” – International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
A film by film by Edward Ellis, Aaron Woolf and Flor Salcedo.
Executive Producers Catherine Murphy, Richard Lipsitz, and Andrea Clark.
30 minutes of Q&A to follow the screening.
All seating is first come, first served. Please arrive early.
Free for students with ID and community by donation ($5.00 – $10.00 suggested)
All proceeds go towards the Campus Food Bank.