Documentarians Ashley Sabin and David Redmon explore a disturbing issue in their ‘Girl Model’: how model agencies recruit 13 years-old girls in Siberia and send them alone to Japan, where they make a short career before being sent back home. They follow both an American model scout, Ashley, who is herself an ex-model, and one of the girls she choose to send to Japan, Nadya, from an impoverish village.
Ashley works as a freelancer for different companies, travelling through Siberia to pick up girls for the Japanese fashion market. These girls need to be slim and very young, so she looks among early teenagers that later on will lie about their age (state that they are 15 instead of 13). The castings in Siberia are already well-prepared, and it is suggested that some of the girls are educated to be models since they are 5-10 years old.
The filmmakers let the images and people speak for themselves, just adding a few notes about the conditions of the models. We learn much about the process of recruiting girls through the words of Ashley, who seems quite uncomfortable with the job she’s doing and admit the chance of abuses from the agencies’ managers.
In ‘Girl Model’ the content is more important than how it is presented. The camera work is a bit amateurish, and the editing is a little confusing. The inherent interest and human value of the matter and the characters sustain the documentary, but it doesn’t go far enough. As touching and eye opener as it is, ‘Girl Model’ seems to explore the tip of the iceberg.