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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

Jacob Sutton’s L.E.D. Surfer

A Night-time Snowboarding Short Lights Up the Last of the Winter Snow

Fashion photographer and filmmaker Jacob Sutton swaps the studio for the slopes of Tignes in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France, with a luminous after hours short starring Artec pro snowboarder William Hughes. The electrifying film sees Hughes light up the snow-covered French hills in a bespoke L.E.D.-enveloped suit courtesy of designer and electronics whizz John Spatcher. “I was really drawn to the idea of a lone character made of light surfing through darkness,” says Sutton of his costume choice. “I've always been excited by unusual ways of lighting things, so it seemed like an exciting idea to make the subject of the film the only light source.” Sutton, who has created work for the likes of Hermès, Burberry and The New York Times, spent three nights on a skidoo with his trusty Red Epic camera at temperatures of -25C to snap Hughes carving effortlessly through the deep snow, even enlisting his own father to help maintain the temperamental suit throughout the demanding shoot. “Filming in the suit was the most surreal thing I’ve done in 20 years of snowboarding,” says Hughes of the charged salopettes. “Luckily there was plenty of vin rouge to keep me warm, and Jacob’s enthusiasm kept everyone going through the cold nights.”

Visit our Facebook page to read interviews with filmmaker Jacob Sutton, snowboarder William Hughes, and the rest of the team behind the L.E.D Surfing film. 

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Spotlight

Will Self: On Your Bike

The Acerbic Author Waxes Lyrical About the Joy of Two-Wheels

On the eve of his appearance at the Intelligence Squared cycling festival, celebrated novelist and cultural commentator Will Self speaks to NOWNESS of his love affair with the “inert lump of metal.” Having converted to the train-handy fold-up Brompton bicycle nine years ago, the Cock and Bull writer is evangelical about the nifty British machine, lauding it as the optimum way to orient oneself to a new town or city. The proud owner of several sets of wheels, Self rhapsodizes on the “beautiful Zen experience” of riding a fixed-gear, and the triumph of the human spirit embodied in the bike. “I cycle alone. I walk alone. It’s not really convenient to cycle with other people,” the notoriously sardonic author muses. “Do you want to just spend your time looking at someone else’s bum, or do you want to encourage someone else to just look at your bum?” Appearing at the debate alongside fellow writers Bella Bathurst and Geoff Dyer, Self is set to provoke the kind of gloriously freewheeling discussion that tends to follow him around.

For more information on the Intelligence Squared Cycling Festival at the Royal Geographical Society on Thursday 8th click here.

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