Please read the following before viewing my film - "I Ate the H0le Thing"

I thought I would write a little more background about the film.

The idea of taking on the appalling and growing phenomena of Size 0 as the ideal standard of beauty, which is exploding all over North America (and elsewhere) first came to me in 2002. I was shopping, and came across - to my complete horror- my first size 0. This was before the media, advertisers and actors had started to challenge these dangerous myths. Until then, size 5, which is already extremely tiny, was considered a womyn’s ideal to achieve. I went home and immediately wrote the poem Size 0. This poem showcases almost all of the Womyn who appeared in the film and is the last piece to appear in it.

A few years later, I became interested in pursuing a new career as a Filmmaker because Womyn’s voices are sadly lacking in the stories that are told, as well as in the leaders - Executive Producers, Directors, Writers and DOPs, etc. in the film industry, at least in those who are given the opportunities to work. This, despite the fact that there are countless amazing Womyn Filmmakers out there who are either never given the opportunity to have a public voice, or are given a very small one! To make real changes we need our voices to be public.

At first, I saw this film as a short, but then I thought, “Get as many Womyn as you can from as many visible and invisible diversities as you can, and make it a feature length project.” To me, the more diversity and the more voices heard the better! I gave them each a list of 7 key themes and let them do whatever they wanted to with them. I am creating a new term for the film industry called the “Reality Film,” and that is what this film is. This film showcases Real Womyn, celebrating Real Womyn, who wrote or improvised their own words. I have not edited out a single one of their words, out of respect for their wisdom, experience and messages, and my belief that the audience will want to hear the whole truth, or Reality. This film will appeal to anyone who wants to cut through all of the bull and hear some Real voices, and see everyday Womyn Heroes celebrated for what they Really are - FANTASTIC as they are!

I also wanted to allow for some Womyn Artists to tell their Real stories using different forms of performance and visual art, and to mix them with everyday Womyn Heroes, as well as some Actors. We have clowning, puppetry, dance, performance poetry, visual art, and a burlesque dancer in costume. We also have personal stories, beliefs, ideas and theoretical discussion. Each Womyn’s piece was introduced with a piece of visual art from one of several Womyn Artists, which I felt matched the message of her words. I also inserted carefully selected special effects, to act as symbolic illustrations of what the Womyn are saying, using whatever I had access to in the simple Avid program. The purpose was to use all of the above methods to make this film look and sound different from other films that are out there. The entire film was edited using only Avid software because it was absolutely the best software that I could afford. In fact, it was more than I could afford. In addition, this film was made without any funding or support other than from those who worked on it. It was made with a budget starting at 0 and going into the minuses. It was also made with less than one fifth of the cost of the average 30 second commercial which most Filmmakers consider to be impossible, yet I did it.

I also conducted a very detailed, anonymous survey of the Womyn involved in this project and included information on: ethnic, cultural, (dis)Ability (a term I find insulting even with this spelling which I created, so I have renamed it Uniquenesses), sexual/gender identity, ages, sizes, career/job and educational backgrounds of the Womyn involved in this project, to show the full spectrum of perspectives they represent, and to help educate people about Canadian diversity, and about Womyn in general at this point in Herstory. Please note that I have included these survey results at the very beginning of the credits, at the end of the film.

I also included my Size 0 visual art piece, which I created for this film. It appears in the background as an ongoing reminder of the oppression Womyn experience about physical appearance. I was planning to leave the traditionally (and ironically so) pink, feminine hanger empty, but at the last minute, to make it clearer to the youth who see it I added a sign that says Size 0.

The key words these Womyn were given to explore were “Womyn, identity, eating, health, body image, size and societal stereotypes.” From there, they were completely free to use their own voices, methods, and techniques of exploration. Other rules I gave myself, were to honour their words by showing them in their entirety, and to present their physical appearances as naturally as possible. Some of the countless other crucial themes in this film which these Womyn chose to explore as offshoots of the above key words, and which are relevant to Womyn, children, youth and all adults are: abuse - both by oneself and by others, racism, sexism, ageism, animal rights, and ableism.

As a Womyn, and a person who represents more than one diversity, I have faced countless, lifelong barriers, including in my film career to date, (and no doubt you can attest to in your own experiences) which have been further enhanced by my choosing to work on many projects which focus on what is labelled by the mainstream, male dominated film industry, funders and festivals as being strictly “Womyn’s issues.” But to me, these issues are really world wide, humanitarian (and animal) rights issues, as well as being Womyn’s issues - the last of which should be seen as valid in and of itself, but is still marginalized. I had to shoot this film without any funding or indeed, even any extra income to fund it, and I did a large percentage of the jobs including: construction site clean-up, food prep, cleaning toilets, etc. myself, (which was especially physically challenging for me) in addition to executive producing, directing, writing, making art pieces, etc. and appearing in it. When you believe in the importance of what a project stands for, you make it any way you can.

As a final point, the title of the film was chosen for many reasons. It is an obvious twist on the well know phrase, “I ate the whole thing.” I also use a numeral 0 in the word “h0le” as an allusion to both my Size 0 poetry piece, and to the general size 0 predominant rule of perfection. In addition, it is about the fact that Womyn’s lives and their spirits are being eaten up and destroyed in countless ways every day by these societal, mythical and impossible standards of perfection which Womyn are constantly expected to fulfill, even though they are already phenomenal in all that they take on. In fact, during filming I wrote a second poem called “False Advertising” to further illuminate these concepts, which is the second last piece to appear in the film. Lastly, it is the idea that we as the Womyn who are expected to swallow all of this destructive garbage on a daily basis, need to turn it around, take the power back, and devour, or eat the “h0le” thing, this “h0le,” being the emptiness and uselessness of all of these myths and impossible expectations.

In terms of music, since there were a scarcity of musicians willing to donate the use of their music to anyone for free, I cut together a soundtrack of many of the Womyn in the project saying and singing the phrase “I Ate the Hole Thing” in different pitches, tones, and languages. These sound effects occur at the beginning and end of this film.

Please note that I also have a one and a half hour version of this film.

Thank you for your interest in this important film. The 41 of us who worked on it (38 are Womyn) are very proud of it!

This film premiered at GiRLFeST Hawaii in November 2008. It was in the Hot Docs, Doc shop in 2008, and it was in the Freun (Women’s) International Film Festival, Industry Forum in 2009. It is also listed on the prestigious Internet Movie Database, in addition to being on many other International databases.

Ariel Len