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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.

(Read More)

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Spotlight

Gymnast: In Motion

Somersaulting Trampolinists Rise and Fall in Director Steve Harries' Reflective Short

The elegant movements and athletic prowess of five twirling trampolinists are captured in photographer Steve Harries’ new short film, ahead of this weekend’s trampolining World Cup Series event at China’s Taiyuan City. Inspired by German photographer Andreas Gursky, American minimalist Robert Morris’s Mirrored Cubes, and the typography and graphics of British vorticist magazine BLAST, Harries constructed a floating set to capture the multi-perspectival reflections of the bouncing athletes. Performing up to 7.5 meters in the air—shot from a tall camera tower beneath a rig suspending the set, mirrors and lights from the ceiling—professional gymnasts Nathan Bailey, Kat Driscoll, Bryony Page, Emma Smith and Steven Williams’s bodies were broken up into fragmented forms and motions by a bank of six mirrors. “It was always really important that these mirrors existed somewhere that was ambiguous, but also that you could see they were in a space,” explains Harries. “It was a set suspended. We could control the way in which the mirrors were angled to abstract the movement as the athletes passed through them.”

STATS FROM ON SET

Number of athletes
Five.

Height of camera tower
Five meters.

Height of mirrors
Six meters.

Height of the studio
Ten meters.

Distance from mirrors to camera
Twelve meters.

Distance from athlete to mirrors
4.5 meters.

Designers used
Adidas, Calvin Klein Collection, Raf Simons, Sunspel, Wolford, Y3.

Bespoke clothes made for the shoot
Six gymnast leggings, six gymnast shoes, and 12 sports vests designed by stylist John McCarty with patterns made by Fiona Ransom.

Hair products used
Five elastic bands, 25 hairpins, Bumble and Bumble wax.

Snacks
Celebrations.

Camera used
Arri Alexa.

Stills film
Kodak Portra.

Soundtrack on set
The trampolines.

Average number of bounces, per athlete per take
Fifteen.

See the magic behind the scenes at Steve Harries' gymnastic shoot in our Facebook-only video, here.

(Read More)

Spotlight

Frequencies: Early Echo

Surfer Kassia Meador Rides Nature’s Rhythms in Bruce Muller's Short Film

Longboard icon Kassia Meador floats serenely across the majestic waves in surfer and filmmaker Bruce Muller’s Echo. The visual meditation is the first of four shorts teasing the release this fall of Frequencies, an experimental documentary and visual essay by Muller shot at prime surfing destinations across Southern California. Starring Meador and with an original score from Los Angeles-based psyche-pop trio E.S.P, Frequencies aims to explore how man can find synergy with nature’s cycles. “Their are so many different frequencies all around us at all times: ocean waves, sound waves, light waves, infrared and many others outside our range, but all have an effect on us,” explains professional surfer and passionate photographer Meador. “There are many parallels we can connect between surfing and navigating life.” Having previously made the music video for Warpaint’s single “Elephant”, Florida-native Muller combined his love of surfing and the fantastical films of Ridley Scott, Andrei Tarkovsky and Akira Kurosawa in the upcoming feature. “We exist in a world that is vast and dynamic,” he says. “We’re using surfing as a medium to explore how we harness these energies and the effects they have on us."

(Read More)

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