There’s some truth to the idea that for every obstacle someone has had to overcome, there’s someone with a mirror image version of that same circumstance. Perhaps misery loves company but witnessing these occurrences most certainly creates sympathy. One of the most benevolent gifts of film is the opportunity to gain understanding (and perhaps empathy) of those who may be less known or discussed. For all the admiration and envy they may inspire, male models deal with many of the problems as their female counterparts. Bodies in Ruins is Romeo Visca’s inside access to this world and the men who live it on a daily basis. The story is one of big dreams and the people who take advantage of these hopeful men. It’s not often that a film reaches the achievement of showing male characters as vulnerable and simultaneously trapped by that which makes them admired. Bodies in Ruins may be a statement on the modeling industry but more so, it’s a surprising tale of subjugation.
Visca knows the story of the characters in his film well. He has performed in well-known and acclaimed films as: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the James Bond film Spectre, and numerous television series such as the second season of FX Network’s American Crime Story, and others. He has both proven his talent and yet been judged by his aesthetically pleasing appearance for most of his adult life. With Bodies in Ruins he wanted to illustrate the experience of men in an industry which focuses on the outward…at any cost.
Bodies in Ruins tells the story of three male models during the launch of a world-renowned fashion designer’s newest collection. The luxury and glamour is displayed along with the drug abuse, starvation, and humiliation that accompanies it in this world. Stephan, Daniel, and Andy seem to be living an exciting and lavish life but they have entered into an awful bargain to achieve their dreams. Those whom one would assume are present to protect these models are often their torturers. Stephan’s agent refuses to let him eat or drink, urging him to instead eat a tissue when he is hungry. Andy’s agent places him in compromising situations with powerful admirers, eventually leading to his suicide. In the face of the Andy’s suicide, Daniel has a mental breakdown. As the only remaining member of this trio, Stephan is constantly being sexually assaulted by his agent.
Not surprisingly, much of the film focuses on the prevalence of imposed eating disorders in the modeling industry. Rather than being focused on, these are accouterments to the mental state of mind of these three male models. Food is only one element of what they are deprived but becomes one which they are always aware of, or rather aware of its absence. This is cleverly communicated to the viewer via fast cuts while they check their weight, giving a glimpse as to the inner monologue of the men. Romeo states, “There was an edit prior to that which is seen in the final film. I felt the initial edit did not fully communicate the emotion and pain of the main characters. I called in Aijia Li to view the film and gave her free reign to approach the story with the only caveat that I wanted to feel more. I will never forget the moment she showed me her cut of the film; I was speechless and brought to tears. Her editing allowed my vision for Bodies in Ruins to elevate to a beautiful story that surpassed all of my expectations.”
The story of Body in Ruins has been embraced worldwide, enjoying great success as an Official Selection at internationally esteemed festivals that include the 12 Months Film Festival (Romania), the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival (India), the Golden Frames Film Festival (India), and the Schlingel Film Festival (Germany). No matter what their gender or background, tales of the abused resonate everywhere.