Our MISSION: to start a #bodyimagerevolution
The Illusionists is a documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty ideals around the world. More than just a film, The Illusionists aims to build a movement, encouraging people to accept themselves for who they are and to “speak truth to media.”
The home edition of The Illusionists (director’s cut, 85 min) is available for streaming ($4.99) and as a digital download ($8.99) on the distribution platform vhx.tv. If you are a teacher, non-profit director, or librarian, you can purchase an educational license for it via our distributor the Media Education Foundation.
Sex sells. What sells even more? Insecurity. Multi-billion dollar industries saturate our lives with images of unattainable beauty, exporting body hatred from New York to Beirut to Tokyo. Their target? Women, and increasingly men and children. The Illusionists turns the mirror on media, exposing the absurd, sometimes humorous, and shocking images that seek to enslave us.
running time: 85 minutes (director’s cut); 51 minutes (TV cut)
format: HD (1080p)
languages: English, French, Japanese, Italian
subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Italian (85 minute version)
written, produced & directed by: Elena Rossini
narrator: Peter Coyote
original music by: STAL
distributor: VHX (84 minute version; for personal use only: home screenings)
educational distributor: Media Education Foundation (52 and 41 minute versions; license for screenings in schools, NGOs and libraries)
Praise for 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)
“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 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
“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
Buy or Rent The Illusionists
Do you work for a school, library or non-profit organization? You can order The Illusionists via our educational distributor, the Media Education Foundation.
You can choose from a wide variety of rental and purchase options: 1-week, 1-year, and 3-year streaming licenses and/or a physical DVD. The full-length educational version of the film (54 minutes) and an abridged version (43 minutes — edited for language and content for younger viewers) are both included on the same DVD.
The director’s cut of The Illusionists (85 minute version) is now available on VHX.tv for home use*. You can rent it for $4.99 or buy it (as a digital download) for $8.99.
*Schools and non-profits interested in The Illusionists must buy an educational license from the Media Education Foundation (see options on the right). The version available on VHX does not cover screenings in academic institutions, libraries, or any type of public screening; it is limited to private use at home.
Book a Screening
Are you interested in having a special screening of The Illusionists, followed by a Q&A with director Elena Rossini?
Or do you want to host your own screening at your school or company?
The film exists in 3 versions: 85 minutes (director’s cut), 52 minutes (educational edition, for high school and university students), and 41 minutes (for middle schools). The film’s original version is in English, with optional English subtitles. Italian, Spanish and French subtitles are available for the 85 minute version of The Illusionists.
“I’ve seen The Illusionists several times now and each day since, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, some part of the film will resonate with me. Whether it is a quote (“We’re losing bodies like we are losing languages”), a statistic (the amount of time we are currently exposed to media and will be exposed to media in the future), or just the simple understanding of the impact that mass media has on every single one of us, no matter how secure we are, I no longer look at advertisements the same. I have a better personal understanding of beauty versus glamour from this film and a better understanding of myself too. To have witnessed the impact that this film had on everyone who saw it was incredibly moving for me. I truly believe that I am a better social work practitioner as a result of the messages in The Illusionists.”
Rachael Abrams, Parent Outreach Specialist for Jewish Community Services
“The film was very powerful for me to experience personally as well as to hear the conversations at Towson afterwards. Body image, health, consumer culture and societal and gendered expectations of beauty are all topics that are part of our daily lives. For young college students as well as older adults dealing with aging, I think the film touched a nerve or two with everyone in the audience. I think the impact was to get us thinking about our part in this conversation and what we can be doing for ourselves and our physical and mental well-being.”
Mahnoor Ahmed, Associate Director, Student Diversity and Development at Towson University
“The film took seven years to complete – seven years – and it shows. Elena produced an inspiring and touching film and introduced topics that I had never before thought about. I’ve seen the film five-times and would see it 500 more.”
Ilana Posner, ifIknew.org