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March 1, 2014

Natalia Vodianova: #Neverstop

The Russian Supermodel Stars in Filmmaker Bruno Aveillan’s Celebration of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games

“What if?” is the question posed by Natalia Vodianova in #Neverstop, the inspirational film directed by the French filmmaker and artist Bruno Aveillan, released today to raise awareness for the athletes competing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games. The short imagines a heavily pregnant Vodianova running through an empty hangar with a prosthetic leg, her goal to challenge peoples’ preconceptions of disability. The Russian model, who left behind a childhood selling fruit on the streets of her home city Nizhniy Novgorod for a celebrated career as the face of brands such as Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent, has long been a champion of families raising children with disabilities, and helps to create play environments for disadvantaged children through her charity the Naked Heart Foundation. Vodianova spoke exclusively to NOWNESS about her motivations launching the  #Neverstop campaign, created with JWT International Moscow and her support of next week’s Paralympic Games.

Can you tell us about working with Russian swimmer Olesya Vladykina, the other female ambassador of the Games?
Natalia Vodianova:
It was incredibly inspiring for me to meet Olesya. She lost her arm in a bus accident that her friend died in, and she told me how she felt afterwards that of course it took a few months to adjust. However there are positive ways that her life has been changed since the accident. She started to appreciate life so much more, alongside the kindness and openness of people. And speaking to Jessica Long, the American swimmer who has 15 gold medals and holds 13 world records by the age of 21, you see someone who really just appreciates the richness of life.

What do you feel when you watch yourself transformed like this?
NV:
The visual is not showing a reality but an idea: what if? And that is an important question for all of us. When I saw the last edit of the film I cried. I’m really just glad that it happened and that we made it; a project that was full of little miracles.

Have you seen a shift in how disability is perceived in Russia?
NV:
We knew that the stigma of people with disability is still very strong in Russia, so we wanted to show the inspirational side of the Paralympic athletes. The transition towards inclusivity in a country with an infrastructure like Russia will take a very long time because it’s a very big country with it’s own difficulties. I want as many people as possible in Russia to see the film and would love it to speak to their hearts.

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Spotlight

Beautiful Game

A Lineup of New Faces From Nations Competing in the European Soccer Championship

With the UEFA European Football Championships now underway in Poland and Ukraine, fresh-faced models from the participating countries fly their native colors in acclaimed photographer Roe Etheridge’s portrait series for the fifth biennial edition of Sepp magazine. Paced to coincide with the even-year cycle of international soccer tournaments, Sepp has been celebrating the crossovers between football and fashion since its launch by Editor Markus Ebner in 2002 as a “cool fanzine.” Ebner brought in esteemed creative director Beda Achermann (formerly of Men’s Vogue Germany) and Gagosian artist Etheridge to work together on the shoot. “We wanted to make a map of Europe, to show the faces of Europe with the obvious sports link but with a classic Playboy connotation,” explains Ebner. “But it wasn’t easy to cast 11 girls from 11 countries to pose pin-up style.” The collectible’s latest issue also features witty soccer-themed sketches by Karl Lagerfeld and a hyper-saturated fashion editorial by photographer Jeff Burton. In addition to running Sepp, Ebner also edits handsome German fashion glossy Achtung.

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Spotlight

Ron Church: Surf’s Up

The Lensman’s Early Work Chronicles the 60s California Waveriding Scene

San Diego beach boys scan the waves and sun-kissed babes hold court in Ron Church’s immortal images of 60s West Coast surf culture. The late photographer’s lesser-known work is collected in Ron Church CA/HI 60 to 65, a new tome co-published by editor Tom Adler and The Surfer’s Journal, and comprised of scenes snapped up and down the coast of Southern California and Hawaii at a time when the sport was seeping into the zeitgeist. “It was just on the cusp of becoming less of an outsider bohemian thing, and Ron was there,” says Church’s former darkroom assistant Brad Barrett. “He had that thing, he had it early, and because of that it became iconic.” Already a highly decorated underwater photographer and record-holding spearfisherman when he set his sights on surfing, Church was unique in capturing the burgeoning movement from the water, paddling out with his square-format camera, and framing his shots with an artful composition that set him apart. “A person on a big wave is great,” says Church’s widow, Shirley Richards. “But as time goes by, it was the fact that he devoted so much of it to the culture, the clothes, the hairstyles, the bathing suits, the everything. Taking those pictures is what made the difference.”

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