About-Face BlogChange-makersOn The Pulse

“America the Beautiful” came to San Francisco, and we were there.

By June 10, 2009 2 Comments
Carol Normandi (co-founder of Beyond Hunger), Darryl Roberts, me, and Laurelee Roark (co-founder of Beyond Hunger)

Carol Normandi (co-founder of Beyond Hunger), Darryl Roberts, me, and Laurelee Roark (co-founder of Beyond Hunger)

Way back in August ’08, I had the pleasure of catching this little indie film, “America the Beautiful,” as it showed briefly in San Francisco. I thought to myself “If About-Face made a film, this is the film it would make.” And I sure had a lot to say about it when I walked out of that theater, as evidenced here! From that blog entry:

There are just so many pertinent, poignant bits in this film, one being that the whole thing flows really well and nails the problem of our culture’s beauty obsession in a way that no somewhat-smart woman can deny.

Even more than the gratitude I felt in August that “America the Beautiful” had been produced at all, I wanted (no, needed) to help bring it back again to San Francisco so all of our About-Face supporters could also see it. So you know what? We did that on May 27 and 28. It took some instigation from a firebrand community member (Christa! Yay!) and her fellow yoga teacher Vajra (yay!). We added many planning hours and joined up with Beyond Hunger, another great org that helps women, teens, and men with severe eating disorders. Then we stirred it all up.

Two screenings followed — one in San Francisco and one in San Rafael (up in Marin County), and we had such an outpouring of support for the film, and for About-Face and Beyond Hunger. Our awesome founder, Kathy Bruin, took her rightful place as an About-Face schmoozer, all our supportive board members (Mara, Kelly, Kristen, Jennifer, and Vivian) supported us, and my wonderful friends came (Trish! Kim! Alison! Kendra!) too.

Our beautiful audience at the Clay Theatre.

Our beautiful audience at the Clay Theatre.

The best part, really, was that 350 more people got to see “America the Beautiful” in our area.

Darryl Roberts, the filmmaker (a tall man with a heart of gold) did a Q&A session after each screening, and told some great stories (yes, Oprah was mentioned). Basically, everyone was just hanging on his every word.

I heard from so many friends, acquaintances, and strangers after the screenings, saying they’d never considered how much our culture damages young women with messages about “beauty.” I even ran into one friend on the street the day after she saw the film, and she was still thinking about it, and mulling over how to talk to her very young daughter about body image issues.

Get this film to your area! Click here to go to the site.

Get this film to your area! Click here to go to the site.

What’s that? You say you missed it this time? Or you’re not nearby? “America the Beautiful” is not on DVD as of this writing, but it will be soon. Here are some other ways to see and bring “America the Beautiful to your community:

  • Head on over to the film’s web site and sign up to be alerted when the DVD is released
  • When the DVD comes out in the fall, contact us, and we’ll help you throw the party so you can show friends the film at your home
  • Go to the film’s web site and invite Darryl Roberts, the filmmaker, to speak to your group after a screening

And a little extra goodness: How fun would it be to have an “About-Face film series” in San Francisco or nearby, made up of some of the best media/body image/women’s self-esteem movies out there? (Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly 3,” anyone? “Lovely and Amazing” anybody?) If you’re interested in attending or helping organize that, e-mail me directly and be sure to comment below to register your support!

Jennifer Berger, About-Face’s Executive Director