In one of the fastest growing cities in the world, the people of Chengdu are restructuring their faces as fast as buildings are being constructed. The Sichuan MyLike Cosmetic Hospital has paired with a local TV station to create the MyLike Beautiful Asia Project. Winners of this competition receive free cosmetic surgery.
In a world where people believe a new nose can determine your future, 18-year-old Christine enters the competition, aiming to become more “western.” After winning the competition she must make life-altering decisions that will affect her future forever. This personal, yet globally relevant film takes a cinéma vérité look into the heart of China asking: what does it mean to want to look “white”?
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
In 2011, we had an idea to move to China to make a documentary film. We had a lot of experience working on documentaries that were shot in their entirety in just a few days, so we wanted to spend a long time in one place, making friends and finding a compelling story that we cared about. Putting ourselves in a whole new environment and learning a new language fostered a great deal of personal growth. We learned a lot about Chinese culture and developed a deep love and understanding for it.
We wanted to show a process happening “in the now” rather than having interviews of people telling stories of what had happened in the past. So, we decided to go to Chengdu, China because it's a major city, but not one of the more well known ones like Beijing or Shanghai. We enrolled in classes at a local University to learn Chinese and picked up odd jobs to pay our way.
Our jobs included, but weren't limited to, pizza chef, professional skateboarder, English teacher, baseball coach and nanny. Around 8 months into our journey, we became friends with a young girl named Christine who told us she was entering the MyLike competition to get plastic surgery. We started to follow her through the competition; to our surprise, she ended up winning. It was then we knew we had a film.
Our decision to live in China for such a long time really paid off because we were able to show a changing event in someone’s life. We're very passionate about the material we captured and want to share it with the world.
WHY THIS STORY:
"A growing trend has Asian patients of all ages, from the middle-aged to adolescents, seeking out plastic surgery in an effort to make themselves appear more ‘Western'"(Huffington Post). There are specific reasons for this. Modern racial and gender ideologies have led to the rise of a multi-billion dollar cosmetic surgery industry. China is the fastest growing country in the world, and poised to surpass the United States as the world's super power. Globalization is playing a huge role in China's development and generating many economic and social changes.
In Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Dr. Eugenia Kaw wrote that, "associations that Asian American women make between their (facial) features and personality characteristics stem directly from stereotypes created by the dominant culture in the US and by Western culture in general, which historically has wielded the most power and hegemonic influence over the world.”
Throughout history, white Europeans and Americans have secured their dominant place in society and with that, have made “whiteness” the standard for beauty. By attempting to look “more white” and therefore more “beautiful,” Asian women are mutilating their bodies through plastic surgery so as to conform to this idea.
Ben Mullinkosson and Bobby Moser have produced documentaries all over the world and the United Sates. Their films have been featured in film festivals such as AFI Silverdocs, Atlanta Film Festival, Thinline Film Festival, Telluride Mountainfilm, Hot Springs Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. They received their training at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
$500- Post-production sound- Sound is hugely important to any film, this is for an amazing sound designer, his name is Cody Peterson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3239058/) he's giving us a really great deal to complete the entire film.
$500- Website design and graphic design- This is to for someone to help us with a proper design of a new website and a designer for all logos, post cards, DVD's covers etc. We've identified a Web designer and are looking for a graphic designer.
$100- Post Cards and Business cards- To help get the film out there we need post cards and business cards to give to people with all the info they will need to find info on film.
$300- Burning DVD's and Blu ray's- Creating a copy of a movie takes money. This part is to make a few hundred DVD's and Blu rays. We will send these out to festivals, distributors, and donor rewards.
$1000- Outreach and Festivals- The largest part of the budget is to get the film out there. We want as many people as possible to see it. This part of the budget is for film festival entry fees, and other promotional materials. We'll also be creating a lesson plan to potentially get educational distribution. We hope that this film will be able to promote discussions about issues of race, gender and beauty.
Risks and challenges
1. We're two white men making a film about a woman of color
Chapman University humanities and social science professor Mildred Lewis serves as an advisor to the film and everyday we are learning more and more about the body, race, gender, and how dominant cultures influences beauty all in an effort to make "What I Hate About Myself" a socially aware film.
2. China is a world away culture-wise and production-wise.
We learned Chinese to connect with subjects to make this film. We are currently 100% shot.
3. If the film is already shot, why do you need our money?
Shooting a documentary is only half the battle, without solid sound and accurate translations we have no film. And without an audience through distribution, the film is pointless to make.
4. Why is this film worth supporting?
Teacher after teacher has taught, "show don't tell." Christine's story is not a simple retelling of a meaningful event, it is contemporary issue actually happening onscreen. The film has a unique observational style and asks questions rather than forcing emotions.
- (30 days)