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Hot Docs 2024: Qs à la mode with… Eisha Marjara (Am I the Skinniest Person You’ve Ever Seen?)

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Director Eisha Marjara examines her struggles with body image, an eating disorder, cultural identity, and her relationship with her family in Am I the Skinniest Person You’ve Ever Seen? We posed our Qs a la mode to Eisha, and here’s what she shared!

 

If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Lyrical, wistful, fun. 

I decided to make this film because: During the pandemic, the rate of eating disorders amongst youth rose sharply. When I became aware of this fact, I saw it as an opportunity to address the issue of anorexia, after having broached the subject on film years ago. I chose to explore anorexia as a response to the pain of losing childhood, a revolt against growing up — specifically, growing up female — and an attempt to take back time. If the film speaks to kids at all, I should think it would be to kids today more than at any other moment in history. 

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: My little sister. She died the day after her high school prom. Seema was killed in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985 along with my mother, Devinder. It did not occur to me until I started working on the film that I had never grieved my sister’s loss. Working on the film gave me a chance to mourn her and honour her life and our relationship. I also remembered how she was self-conscious about her looks, as a darker-skinned Indian girl. I could address colourism in the film through her story. 

The toughest part of the shoot was: Sorting through all the archival material — the family archives, the NFB’s and other stock footage, which makes up 95 percent of the film. The most frustrating aspect was not being able to use some of the most iconic imagery and media from my teens that shaped my identity, for copyright reasons.

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: When my sister turns into a butterfly and blossoms into womanhood. It is beautiful and heartbreaking.

My most invaluable piece of doc-making equipment was/is: Editing software, be it Avid or Premiere Pro. It’s the film oven where the goods get baked and served. 

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is:  Know your story. Documentary, like fiction film, is storytelling. Getting a good grasp of the subject, the story you want to tell, and the themes you want to address will lay the foundation for your film.

 

Want to check out Eisha’s film, or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!

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