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Here are reviews from experts and educators who have watched an advanced preview of The Illusionists:

“The genius of this piece is in its simplicity. A revelatory primer on the global manipulation of perception and consumption, The Illusionists should be required viewing in every school – and possibly every home.”

Joss Whedon | Film & TV director, screenwriter and producer (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“The film captures brilliantly how the beauty industrial complex has hijacked not only women and girls’ lives, but men and boys’ lives as well, in order to sell sex and exploit female bodies for profit.”

Cathy Hillman | President of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women

“The Illusionists is that rare documentary film, that leaves you walking out of the theatre feeling like you’ve had an epiphany. Its power is in reminding us of how much power we already have. Women make 85% of purchasing decisions. Women control the consumer economy. Now imagine, what would happen if we stopped buying into false necessities?”

Ziya Tong | TV presenter & producer; co-host of Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet

“The Illusionists stands out from other feminist takes on the beauty industry with its global and intersectional approach. Filmmaker Elena Rossini is a talent to be reckoned with, with a knack for distilling complex information and the eye of a seasoned cinematographer.”

Rachel Hills | author of The Sex Myth

“There are moments in history when one film or novel or song commands our collective attention and points to the undoing happening before our very eyes. The Illusionists is such a film. Our children will live longer than any generation in history, yet live in an era of age-compression where even 8 year olds are sexualized. Our world is globally connected in new ways, yet a narrow standardization of beauty – rather than a celebration of beauty’s many varieties – is prized. Technology allows us to share our lives, yet we use tools to airbrush images to an unattainable ideal. Too bad that in this state of things we no longer have Dr. Seuss to illustrate the big lesson for us. Thank heavens we have Elena Rossini to film it.”

Kat Gordon | Founder, The 3% Conference

“The Illusionists is a thematically and geographically ambitious film that spans four continents, documenting a wide range of beauty practices and body ideals across the United States, Lebanon, France, Africa, Japan, and India. Filmmaker Elena Rossini traverses the advent of male muscularity and feminine thinness; the marketing of anti-aging, weight-loss, and skin-whitening products; trends in body hair removal and facial cosmetic surgery; and the emergence of virtual fashion modeling. As the film title suggests, these practices and ideals are illusory because they mark a shift away from beauty’s European classical associations with vanity and narcissism and toward twentieth-century American-style consumerism and twenty-first-century processes of censorship, post-production digital manipulation, and media saturation through mass dissemination. The film thus brings much-needed attention to the way in which our bodies, to draw on the work of feminist scholar Susan Bordo, have become projects on which we work and in which we invest—economically and emotionally—replicating other forms of labor and high-value commodities.”

Films for the Feminist Classroom

“As someone who is very involved in the conversation around body image after screening the movie, I can honestly state that The Illusionists is a game changer is opening up the body image conversation up to a world wide audience.”

Brian Cuban | Author of Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder

“The Illusionists teases apart complex ideas about power, consumerism and beauty, and leaves the viewer feeling enlightened and ready to make change. A valuable contribution to media literacy and body image education, this is an inspiring documentary with a unique global perspective!”

Claire Mysko | COO and interim CEO at the National Eating Disorders Association

“The Illusionists builds upon Jean Kilbourne’s pioneering work and offers a brilliant — and much-needed — analysis of advertising at a global level. The film’s focus on a global culture of ideal beauty exposes the power dynamics inherent in the desire for a Westernized image. And women are no longer the only targets. The film shows how advertising has turned to men for a new market: Fair, hairless skin and a six-pack are the new ideal for masculine desirability. The media literacy that The Illusionists encourages should be taught along with the basics so that children around the world have a fighting chance against the corporate-inspired conformity of a soul-dead consumer culture.”

– Denise H. Sutton, PhD | Author of Globalizing Ideal Beauty: Women, Advertising, and the Power of Marketing

“With unsettling visuals, damning examples, and interviews with the leading experts, The Illusionists reveals the capitalist impulses behind the intimidatingly high standard of beauty in the West and shows how corporations are bringing men, children, and the entire world into its destructive fold. If you’re going to watch one documentary on the beauty industrial complex, this should be it.”

Lisa Wade, PhD | Associate Professor of Sociology at Occidental College

“The Illusionists is an important reminder that Western ideals of beauty are increasingly permeating cultures all over the globe, disturbingly making damaging standards of thinness the norm. Rossini’s film does much to combat this cross-generation epidemic of body dissatisfaction and should be required viewing for women of all ages.”

Julie Zeilinger | Founded & Editor of The FBomb | Author of A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word

Elena Rossini has made a courageous, well-researched film with The Illusionists, making a clear link for viewers of how dysfunctional economies and predatory business practices create and reinforce harmful beauty cultures not just in the U.S., but around the world. Fearless in calling out various players in the fashion industry for their racism and use of body shaming to sell products, Rossini wakes us up to what we’re actually doing to women and men alike, young women especially, in pursuit of an extremely narrow standard of beauty (white, Western and thin) and sexuality. I hope everyone sees this film, as it challenges all of us to grapple with the colonial, racist and sexist histories upon so many of our world economies are still based, and introduces us to the people who are working to change things for the better. To create the world anew. Far from leaving us feeling hopeless, The Illusionists reminds us how as business leaders and consumers, we have power to change what kinds of companies and business practices we support.

Lex Schroeder | Writer & Director of Strategy & Partnerships at Take The Lead

“As modern-day life gets increasingly connected to media and technology, it is vital that we understand how corporate marketers shape images of whom girls and women are and how they need to look. These practices make us need to buy, buy and buy more and more and endlessly try to look right but never quite succeed — because the images we see are increasingly extreme and unattainable. This film will help women (and men) gain some of the resilience they need to resist the most extreme media messages marketed to them that promote consumer culture and undermine healthy gender development and relationships in these times.”

Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. | Professor of Education at Wheelock College | Co-Author of So Sexy So Soon

“This important film expands the critique of unattainable beauty to a global scale — revealing how Western values continue to dominate media and consumer landscapes through neocolonial flows of corporate capital that marginalize entire populations. But perhaps The Illusionists’ best trick will be getting students to wrestle with how ideology functions at the most intimate of levels by preying on their own insecurities.”

Christopher Mark Boulton, PhD | Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Tampa

“Brava to Rossini for skillfully offering the viewers of The Illusionists an outside lens from which we can clearly see the intentions and toxic effects of the multi- billion dollar global beauty and advertising industries. As we look in we feel the horror of consumer capitalism as it colonizes our minds and bodies and ruthlessly creates body hatred and insecurity all in the name of profit. We need look no further to understand why there is a mental health epidemic of people unable to comfortably live in their bodies.”

Luise Eichenbaum | Co-founder, The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute, NYC

“Intriguing and eye-opening.”

Sharon Glynn, LPN | Director of Programming at the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness