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March 25, 2014

Southern Belles

From Gone with the Wind to Debutante Balls, a Cross-Generational Look at Beauty in the Deep South

A little under 75 years ago, David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind delivered Scarlett O’Hara in all her Technicolor glory, imprinting forever the notion of the Southern belle: the feisty beauty with a honey-laden accent, done-up in yards of antebellum dress, on the hunt for a husband. By exploring Scarlett’s proverbial stomping grounds in and around Atlanta, Georgia, Tim Richmond and James Nutt’s documentary short Southern Belles discovers that, while the plantation no longer remains, the front porches, hospitality, grace, and etiquette persevere.

Often beneath the genteel exterior lies a strong, refined woman to be reckoned with—but presentation is still paramount. Stepping out in loungewear sans makeup or anything deemed less than respectable is a definite no-no. Equally important is their renowned, friendly hospitality. Southern ladies are exceptionally welcoming and adore entertaining. This is where the warm climate plays its part. Pleasant spring times and forgiving falls. When people are comfortable going in-and-out of doors, serving sweet tea, hosting evening garden or pool parties and the like. But on the flipside, regardless of age, many Southern women agree that one should be weary of artificiality, particularly when the mannerisms are overdone.

Today’s belles are inevitably more independent, liberated and better-educated than their predecessors. The life goal of solely seeking out an MRS degree is, slowly but surely, fading. “Long ago we were taught that we could either teach school if we wanted a career, or be a nurse or perhaps a secretary for some big shot,” notes Louly, one of the narrators from today’s short. “Things have certainly changed but the core values of the Southern belle, such as strength and graciousness, still exist.” —Lee C. Wallick

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Spotlight

Carl Burgess for Nike

The Filmmaker Maps His All-Terrain Homage to Running

For their latest creative collaboration, Nike challenged film director, designer and dedicated jogger Carl Burgess to artistically interpret the exhilaration of running. The shape-shifting globe that appears today on NOWNESS is his answer. Burgess traversed London for the mission, recording the sounds of his journey and documenting its underfoot visuals with his Canon 5D. “We had the essence of the run in data and I wanted to bring it to life,” he explains. Burgess added vibrant colors and topographical embellishments to digital 3D renderings of his photos. He then timed the rotation of the spherical collage to the fluctuating speed of his run, as measured by Nike+ technology that analyzed the athlete's pace through a computer chip in his shoe. “When you go on a run, your mind wanders. You forget where you are. I wanted to show that,” Burgess says of his swirling psychedelics. It's not the first time he's harnessed digital manipulation for innovative results: the former art director for digital agency Hi-ReS! amassed a cult following for his 2010 video for Ratatat’s "Drugs," which tweaks stock footage of actors with forced promotional smiles sourced from Getty images.

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Spotlight

Virtual Volte-Face

Lady Gaga by David O’Reilly

Andy Warhol had Marilyn Monroe. Jean-Luc Godard had Anna Karina. For animator David O’Reilly, Lady Gaga is the icon he can’t resist, and one whose face he took great pleasure in exploding, distorting and anatomizing for his psychedelic series “Lady Gaga: Geotrashing.” Berlin-based O’Reilly has had a longstanding love affair with glitchy digital imagery––his past work includes pixelated neon visuals for MIA’s live shows, a video for U2’s “I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight,” and animated imagery for the 2007 film Son of Rambow. His Gaga tribute was achieved, he says, “by tying the mouse cord to a kite and flying it out the window.” (We presume he’s talking metaphorically here.) What is it about Gaga? “I like her for the same reason I like 3D––it ends up being more truthful by being more fake.” A man after Gaga’s own heart.

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