Filmmaker Elena Rossini visited San Francisco for a series of screenings and Q&As of The Illusionists. The documentary was shown at UC Berkeley, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple.



Insecurity sells. 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.


genre: documentary

running time: 91 minutes (director’s cut); 51 minutes (TV cut)

format: HD (1080p)

languages: English, French, Japanese, Italian (with English subtitles)

Teaser trailer

What people are saying

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

“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

“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

“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


Press Coverage

Despite the fact that The Illusionists hasn’t been released yet, the film has already garnered extensive press coverage: from Vogue Italy, to New York Magazine’s The Cut, Jezebel, Upworthy, Feministing, Indiewire, Il Sole 24 Ore and many others. Check out the full list of articles here.