On February 19 we held a special virtual pub session for members of Irish Naturist Association with online streaming of the Irish documentary NAKED, followed by a questions & answers session with director Edward Kennedy and life model Izabella Linuza.
The film shows the work of artist Róisín Cunningham in conversation with life models Kate Dunne, Izabella Linuza and Dyland Jon Matthews.
We’ve all had the dream. You’re going about your normal day and suddenly you’re naked. But nudity doesn’t have to be embarrassing; it can also be liberating. Three life models, one man and two women, discuss their work posing in the nude. From the nerves of modelling for the first time, to nudity’s power to inspire creativity and liberate the model, this insightful doc looks at what it really means to bare yourself to the world.
Interview with film director Edward Kennedy
Question: Edward, what is the main message of the film? What can we learn from the characters?
Answer: A film starts with a question. When you finish it, you get an answer. When I started work on NAKED, I had several questions which I am copying below:
What is a model’s state of mind like when he/she poses naked? Does she focus on a point on the wall? Does she meditate? Does she ever make eye contact with the artist, or speak with him? How does the male gaze make a woman feel? How does the female gaze make a man feel?
The answer to these questions can only be found by watching the life models when they are posing in the film, not by listening to their words. Words conceal the truth more often than they reveal the truth.
The main message from Kate Dunne, Dylan Jon Matthews, and Izabella Linuza is that life modelling is empowering. The raison d’etre for NAKED is to reveal what it’s really like to be a life model, and to explore the link between sexuality and creativity, and the differences and similarities between the male gaze and the female gaze. In her interview, Kate Dunne stated that there is a male gaze and a female gaze, and there is a difference.
Question: Which feedback have you received since the release of NAKED?
Answer: We received one review by the film critic June Butler at Film Ireland. She wrote: ” Director Edward Kennedy has beautifully rendered a most imaginative take on life models who tell their stories – provoking the same questions of each as they are asked the reasons behind embarking on such a career. Two female models and one male model are interviewed individually and it is fascinating to hear how they arrive at the same conclusion albeit using different language… Director Edward Kennedy has directed a wonderfully, enlightened documentary. Instead of stopping and starting the narrative, he provides a seamless continuum between watching the life models pose, witnessing the artist (and narrator) sketch, and hearing the testimonies of the three life models themselves… In all, Naked is just exquisite and truly worth watching. It is what a documentary should look like when it has grown up. ”
The full review by June Butler can be read at Film Ireland here: http://filmireland.net/2019/09/18/irish-film-review-naked/?fbclid=IwAR3z0P8Xy66VFKhQtv7yAJrWk2KipcGo01qBRYEcCbuPsInVjzngAX_BoQo
Journeyman Pictures released NAKED on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, and Vimeo.
The response from customers on streaming has been mixed, but overall, positive.
On Vimeo, a customer wrote: ” Great documentary. Great insight into everything connected with Life Modelling. Really admire the honesty of the models. Thank you to everyone involved. “
On Google Play, the film has been controversial. One customer wrote: ” … it is clearly an ambitious subject and is an honest exploration of three models’ experience of being the subjects of life drawing. ” 4 out of 5
Overall the film is rated 3.8 out of 5 on Google Play. The bestselling market for NAKED is the United States of America.
Question: Do you think Ireland needs more films exploring social nudity? Are we behind other countries?
Answer: Yes. Ireland is way behind other countries such as Spain in terms of exploring social nudity or for that matter sexuality on film. There was a joke posted in an Irish newspaper years ago about Irish films: “No sex please, we’re Irish. ” And yet when the film NAKED was finished, no Irish newspaper would write about it. I offered to speak to them. Same thing in the UK with The Guardian, the United States of America, the New York Times, USA Today. The film was blacklisted by the media. Whereas our previous film Midnight Man got coverage in the Irish Mail on Sunday, Hot Press magazine, RTÉ, etc. There is a culture of silence against nudity worldwide in the mass media today, and I think it’s very unhealthy. Freedom of speech is also declining.
However, many women are rebelling against it by posting nude selfies of themselves on Twitter and Instagram. I think women will eventually overturn the censorship of nudity in the mass media and this movement is already underway on Twitter.
I sent NAKED to RTÉ and they watched it but they refused to show it on RTÉ. It’s the same thing. No nudity please, we’re Irish. You only have to look at the Mother and Baby Homes report to see how the Irish State has repressed the Irish people, especially women, in the past. Unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church has also played a pervasive role in the suppression of nudity. Nudity is still rare in Ireland in 2021.
As Izabella Linuza said in the Q & A, hardly any Irish women appear nude on our beaches, even the ones well-known for their naturist tradition. Whereas in Spain, women are happy to sunbathe nude at the beach. Same thing in Greece. I personally think Mediterranean countries have a much healthier attitude towards social nudity and Ireland still has a long way to go.
My next film Archie the Parrot is a murder mystery. It’s about a parrot who is the only witness to a murder. An artist finds himself at the centre of a Garda investigation into the disappearance of a woman who is a life model. I am exploring some of the same themes here again: the male gaze, the female gaze, nudity, sexuality, and of course murder. We are also exploring mental health issues in the film such as depression and homelessness.
Film director Edward Kennedy on Instagram: