(2006) 105 min. 35mm. Color
Writer, Director and Producer:
Katharina Otto-Bernstein

One of the favorite films at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, winner of the Silver Hugo Award for excellence in the field of social/political documentary at the Chicago International Film festival and featured in the Women Directors Showcase on the Sundance Channel, BEAUTOPIA is still today the ultimate insider film on the modeling industry.

Filmed in five countries, with an unprecedented cast that includes Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, Eva Herzigova, Carla Bruni, Helena Christensen, Veronica Webb, Lauren Hutton, Veruschka, Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Isaac Mizrahi, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Mario Testino, Francesco Scavullo, John Casablancas and many more familiar faces, BEAUTOPIA is the first documentary of its kind to demystify the glamour of the modeling profession by drawing us into the personal struggles of young girls thrown into the cut-throat world of hero worship.

Four girls, PETRA SVABENSKA from the Czech Republic, SUSANNE HOPPE from Germany, SARAH COOKSON from Great Britain, and DANA DOUGLAS from the United States, have two things in common - each is a model contest winner and each is hyped by their agent as the next potential Supermodel.

BEAUTOPIA follows these four young teenagers as they leave home and are sent all over the world to make their mark and money in the international model markets. Pitted against the Superstars of the business, who share their own experiences with us, the 16-year-old girls travel the world alone. Suddenly taken out of their comfort zone, they are confronted with foreign languages, different customs and a mature environment with little sympathy for youth and inexperience.

Director Katharina Otto-Bernstein deconstructs the glamour of the profession by exposing the business behind the beauty. Initially picked for their unique looks, it is one of the business's ironies that the girls are constantly forced to change their appearance as they change markets. Rather than earning money, they are forced to spend the money they earned on previous jobs on having new pictures taken or paying rent for the small rooms they have to share with other girls.

While the agencies develop a sophisticated commercial façade for these young models, it is their confidence and individuality that suffer greatly. As Lauren Hutton puts it: "Agencies run the models by fear, the tell them 'the next girl is coming right up behind you, you can't miss this campaign, you'll be thrown out tomorrow.' They use them up like tissue paper and that will do them in."

Filled with interviews by leading fashion experts from designers and editors to Supermodels and agents, BEAUTOPIA is not only a portrait of lost childhoods, but also a commentary on our society, that still clings to the image of eternal youth.

Copyright 1998 Film Manufactures Inc.