About the Director
Jesse Epstein remembers exactly when her life changed. It was when her awesome, and frugal, grandmother turned to her and said ‘Look, you could either inherit a bit of cash when I die, or I can spend it now and get you a camera.” Having “the means of production” changed everything.
For most of her life Epstein has been fascinated by the perception of beauty. Growing up in Boston, she moved to Mozambique for two years, where full-figured looks were celebrated. Moving back to the U.S., as a pre-teen, she was pretty confused about what the messages were. Without exception all of her American friends seemed obsessed with being skinny and pasted magazine cut-outs above their mirrors. So, she embarked on a journey to try to understand what was going on. Epstein enrolled in NYU Film School and decided to explore different issues surrounding body image. She is thrilled about the conversations that have already been raised by BODY TYPED and is very interested in hearing more about what people have to say about media, and physical perfection.
What I love about short films is you can get in there, raise some questions, tell a little story and get out, leaving it all open for discussion. These films are meant to explore, ask questions, and start conversations. As a director, I am not interested in telling people that it is wrong to try to look beautiful, or to strive to be fit. But, I do mean to uncover how advertising is creating impossible standards, which no one is able to live up to in real life, expectations that if held onto, can prevent us from being truly happy in the bodies we live in. My goal is to expose the “man behind the curtain” or the artists behind the industry and to better understand how notions of perfection are constructed. But what happens when we meet the “man behind the curtain?” It’s easy to point fingers, but I believe this is a more complicated debate. We are all people doing this. Anthropologically, I wonder why are we creating perfect images of ourselves?
Jesse Erica Epstein is a Sundance award-winning filmmaker. She received an MA in documentary film from New York University. She was selected for “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by filmmaker magazine, and is the editor of the Shooting People, Inc. NY Filmmaker’s Network. She also works as a youth media educator, and for three years taught Reel Stories: Sundance’s Youth Documentary Lab. Jesse has also taught Girls Make Movies at the Girls Leadership Institute, and has a published New York Times Video Op-Ed “Sex, Lies and Photoshop.”
Her projects have received grants from Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Fledgling Fund. She has also received a MacDowell Arts Colony Residency, sponsored by The National Endowment For the Arts.
Jesse also does speaking engagements with BODY TYPED at high schools, colleges and universities.