Documentary Month 1st - 31st July 2023

Finding Venus

Finding Venus


"Auntie Mandi..?"
"Yes Harper?"
"Am I fat?"
Her niece was 5 at the time, and this exchange touched a raw nerve in Master Photographer Mandi Lynn. Why was a 5-year-old worrying about a thigh gap? Concerned that the next generation was going to face the same energy-draining body shame that had impacted her life, Mandi decided to create a “Golden Breasted Shield Wall of Reality" for them.

In December 2016, Mandi put an advertisement on social media asking women to let her cover their torsos in golden clay and photograph them. Six women turned up for the first photo shoot. The numbers quickly rose to 100, and a year and a half later, the “Golden Breasted Shield Wall” was 320 strong. Mandi dubbed the women who were willing to shed their clothing for the movement The Luscious Order of Golden Shield Maidens. Her goal is to reach 600 images which will create a counterpoint to the 400-600 photoshopped images we see daily.

This is the only documentary to date to win Fresh Shorts funding from the New Zealand Film Commission. The Commission cited the funding success to the fact that as one of New Zealand's most awarded photographers, Mandi has developed a style that can tell an epic story in just one frame. They felt the story she was creating needed to be told and would appeal to audiences around the globe. The Commission wanted to see what she could visually create when she applied her famous allegorical aesthetic to the documentary format.

When the Commission assessors saw the final cut, they laughed and cried and had to take a few minutes to collect themselves at the end of the film. When they regained their composure, they told her and her team that this was exactly the sort of film that they had dreamed of when commissioning it.

Finding Venus will punch you in the gut and then cuddle you to smiles by the end. It is raw. It is real. It is heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny, and a film you will not soon forget.

Bring tissues and a woman or girl you love.

"We were struck by the incredible strength, vulnerability, and compassion shared by the women in your film. The reclamation of beauty and identity in the face of an image-obsessed world is incredibly powerful, especially with a focus on empowering the next generation of women and nurturing women who have endured life-changing harm. It’s a timely piece with a touching and sincere emotional depth." - True/False programming team


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