A film which will help women find greater compassion for their bodies is being directed in Eltham next month.
The documentary will be filmed during the Finding Venus Body Positivity Festival which aims to promote body positivity and self love.
Upper Hutt photographer Mandi Lynn is bringing the festival to the Eltham Town Hall February 16-18 as part of a wider art project which helps women accept their bodies.
The festival will include an exhibition of Mandi's work as well as a range of body positive and creative workshops and an "Everybody is a Treasure Luscious Order of the Golden Shield" Photoshoot.
The photoshoot will involve Mandi taking photographs of women aged over 18 who have had their nude torsos covered in golden clay. Mandi hopes to collect 600 images of regular women to counter balance the 600 photoshopped images of a narrow group of women portrayed in the media everyday.
"I have made a magical golden clay that I give to women. When they well up the courage to cover their torso with it and step in front of my camera, an alchemical process happens. They begin to see their body as the treasure that it is. Maybe not immediately but the seed is planted. I want this experienced by over 1000 women across New Zealand."
Mandi has already taken around 100 images of New Zealand women which will be displayed alongside the images of Taranaki women at an exhibition open to the public on the Sunday.
Mandi — who won the 2017 Epson/NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards Creative Photographer of the Year Award — has been selected to make a short film as part of the the New Zealand Film Commission Fresh Shots programme. The programme seeks to support promising film-makers to develop into feature film-making artists.
"We went nuts when we found out. I couldn't believe we were picked out of that competition ... but honestly it is a story that is begging to be told and so important that we do."
Mandi says it will be her first experience directing and the 15 minute film will document her family's reaction to her art. Her mother and sister will be part of the documentary and she hopes that it will be a prequel to a feature length film. She aims to stir up her family's "body shame history" and address how they are going to stop it spreading to the next generation.
Mandi is bringing the festival to Taranaki thanks to a help of a South Taranaki Creative Communities Scheme grant and she has also secured funding to take it to the Pirongia and Bulls. She says the goal is to take the festival to smaller towns in the hope the movement will make a larger impact than it would in cities.
Mandi says she is positive about her own body after 40 years of beating herself up. She sees no point in wasting time worrying about her body when she could be putting her energy into creative endeavours. She is looking forward to the festival and taking photos of Taranaki women.
"It's for women to get back in touch and be compassionate with their bodies."
The Finding Venus Body Positivity Festival is being held between February 16-18 at the Eltham Town Hall. For more information go to www.iamfindingvenus.com