LA Film Fest 2013 - Director Alexandra Lescaze Talks About Doc 'All Of Me'
Obesity has always been a hot topic, especially in America where image is king. But in the new documentary currently playing at this year’s LA Film Fest 2013 titled "All Of Me," Director Alexandra Lescaze goes beyond the obvious stuff to really dig deep into the life of those who struggle with weight and all its issues. There are the more traditional issues like ladies who are looking for ways out and those who are having surgeries to help them on the road to better health, but there’s also an interesting examination of a lessor known fetish world where BBW (stands for Big Beautiful Women) are not only accepted, but revered and desired. It’s a candid and very untraditional look at a traditional subject and we were so impressed by the film that we thought we’d delve a little deeper. So we chatted one-on-one with "All Of Me" filmmaker Lescaze all about her work, what drew her to the subject matter, plus a little follow up insight into her docs most memorable female subjects for those who want to know more. Please welcome filmmaker...
What made you decide to tackle the subject matter within "All of Me" as your next project?
Alexandra Lescaze: Originally I worked with someone who had the surgery, lost a bunch of weight and I was fascinated with the experience of living in a totally new body. Most of us don’t get the chance to do that. And also how the whole world treats you differently depending on what you look like. And then she ended up – the woman I worked with – becoming a national spokesperson for a weight loss surgery group and it was through her that I ended up meeting the women I ended up featuring.
The women in your film are talking about things that are extremely personal – how did you get them to reveal so much?
AL: You know, it wasn’t very hard. I don’t know exactly why, but I think they just trusted me right off the bat. And they could just feel I was not coming from an exploitive place and they wanted to get their story and experience out. But they also felt comfortable with the crew and I and we were a very small crew. It was just myself, my cinematographer Deb and my sound guy Andy and we got to know them in a very intimate way.
What I liked about the doc was how it walked the fine line between being okay with who you are, yet going to a doctor to fix problems. How did you decide on the balance of these two polar opposites in your film?
AL: I think the strongest message for me that I would like to get out would be the social stigma of being fat is so profound and so pervasive that it is so painful for fat people and also so not conducive to actual weight loss and health. So I really wanted to let people say and feel and be on the path toward I’m okay as I am whether I’m in a small body or a large body. And some people do want to choose weight loss and so for these women it was mostly about mobility – nothing about looking beautiful or having some perfect body. This was their choice and I don’t really come down pro or anti weight loss surgery. It was more about if this is your choice you should know what the real journey is – it isn’t a quick fix. Obesity has these psychological components to it and it’s not as simple as we think it is.
There was more than one example where a spouse or significant other loves the look of their wife being a bigger woman – do you think some of these guys are partially to blame?
AL: It’s a tough question and this group is not alone – these BBW chapters exist in every city. Plus the Internet has certainly made it easier for like-minded people of any kind to find each other. I think that it can verge on unhealthy – the feeders – it definitely goes to a bad place in some ways. But everyone is looking for companionship and someone who loves them and finds them sexy and that’s really what it’s about. Unfortunately sometimes people are not fully developed humans and it’s more about a fetish or a type of relationship that maybe you or I wouldn’t think is deep or intimate enough, but it happens all the time and not just with fat people.
Can you talk about what has happened some of the women since the film wrapped shooting...
AL: There haven’t been any major updates really. Dawn is separated from her husband, but they’re still on good friends terms. She’s still trying to lose more weight and she has lost a little more – she’s at about 250lbs. now. She had her knee replaced and so her mobility is a bit better and she’s just continuing her struggle and her life. But she’s really excited about the film coming out and travelling with the film.
AL: Judy is doing well and she’s still trying to maintain her weight loss. Her husband has decided that he thinks he wants to try weight loss surgery and I think she’s a little nervous about that. So that’s the next chapter that they’re about to enter – they’ve paid off hers and now they’re saving money for his.
AL: The best thing that could come out of this is if some doctor stepped up and said I’ll do your surgery pro bono. I have no idea if that will happen, but she lost her job, she doesn’t have insurance and she certainly can’t pay for it herself. And yet she has a daughter and she wants to be able to live a life with her. But her mobility is so compromised - she’s in a really tough spot.
What’s next for you film wise?
AL: I don’t know. I’ve been working on this for almost six years now and I still have to cut down the PBS version to an hour and still have this whole next outreach phase to do, so I think I’m gonna take a little break before I start something else.
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