The critically acclaimed documentary on legendary model-turned-activist Benedetta Barzini Opening in LA on Dec 13 at LAEMMLE MONICA
The Disappearance Of My Mother gives so much to ponder about life, beauty, and the choices we make. Benedetta Barzini wants to disappear. An iconic fashion model in the 1960s, she became a muse to Warhol, Dali, Penn, and Avedon. As a radical feminist in the 1970s, she fought for the rights and emancipation of women. Now in her late seventies, she is fed up and wants to disappear from the lens of the camera.
Her son filmmaker Beniamino Barrese (Ben) has been filming her all his life in spite of her resistance. And he is ready to make a film as she takes her final stand for freedom.
It is not an easy task as she wavers between fits of anger, tender moments of remembrance, and vocal tirade on the suppression of women’s rights. As he takes us through archival images of her modeling days, it becomes clear why she was a favorite of the world’s most famous designers. With striking features and an intense stare, Benedetta commands attention. And as the saying goes, the camera loves her. She, in turn, hated the camera when she tells her son it’s a lie; it freezes beauty when beauty cannot be defined. In her classroom, she challenges her students with questions, pushing them to think about the role of women in society.
As we follow Benedetta through the eye of the lens, we see a woman attempting to reshape her inner soul and yet find that area of comfort where she can shed the shackles of society’s expectations. She passionately declares that fashion was created by men to enslave women to have them conform to ideals and aspirations that take its toll on one’s spirit. We see her sadness, her despair, and her fight to control her own life.
For me, The Disappearance Of My Mother is a reflection of the damage social media has impacted on our values of beauty. When beauty is a tool used for commerce, then where does one find the place within to be valued as an individual.
Benedetta is strong-willed with ideas that will give you lots to think about in regards to beauty and the meaning of memory. If all that we can focus on are taking photos and posting images, then how can we experience an enriched life? We may all end up like Benedetta and feel the need to disappear from ourselves to find ourselves.