Friday, November 13, 2020

DOC NYC Spotlight: Calendar Girl

I’m excited to be covering DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, which presents its eleventh year, this time in a mostly online format, from November 11th-19th. 

Calendar Girl
Directed by Christian D. Bruun
Ticket Information

Any event that’s put on, no matter how small, has people working behind the scenes to make sure it runs smoothly. The larger a program or series is, the more hands are required, and it’s usually just the most visible and well-known among them who earn accolades and public thanks by name. An efficiently-run event requires tremendous planning and considerable work to ensure that the public sees only a presentable and flawless finished product. Even if consumers aren’t aware of who the most crucial parts of that process are, those involved in bringing it all together will surely know who is most responsible for its success.

Ruth Finley founded the Fashion Calendar, the written database of everything happening in New York City and around Fashion Week printed for decades on signature pink paper. Throughout her life, she continued to work, eager to ensure that a business known for its flair was accessible to newcomers and balanced to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to showcase their work. She navigated conflicts and crises, constantly moving people around on the calendar to fit everyone in, determined to maintain her independence despite interest from other companies in buying and taking over her token publication.

This is the third film in as many years about a tiny woman named Ruth who was well-liked and achieved extraordinary things in a time where it was far easier for men to be recognized and hired. Like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Ruth Finley commanded respect from those around her who she physically looked up to but who turned to her for guidance and approval. She knew what she wanted and how to deal with designers who might have thought they knew better, but she was always concerned with being fair and earned respect and goodwill from everyone as a result.

This film is a delightful and entertaining look at the remarkable life of a woman who combined skill and resolve to help make the fashion industry what it is today. It’s wonderful to hear from so many prominent people about the influence that she had on their lives. Most of all, Ruth, who died at 98 in 2018, is the best reason to see this film, cheerfully sharing anecdotes from her experiences and demonstrating her upbeat personality by describing how she always tried to wear something from that specific designer to each show she attended. This is truly an endearing tribute to someone who was equally accomplished and beloved.


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