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Review by Doug Rule
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Monday, 10/20/2008, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at AFI Silver
DURING PRESS INTERVIEWS leading up to his first independent fashion show, Jay McCarroll politely rebuffs a reporter. ”I don’t want to talk about Project Runway anymore,” he says. Of course he doesn’t. He may have been the very first winner of Bravo’s premier reality series, but this fascinating documentary about McCarroll’s struggles to succeed in fashion since winning four years ago reveals that the show’s producers harbor little loyalty or support to its victors. Just as soon as he won, McCarroll was on his own. Only one producer from the show – and certainly none of its star judges – attends McCarroll’s solo debut in Bryant Park in 2006, the focus of this documentary.
So perhaps as a result, the filmmakers stay as far away from the show as they possibly can, in both style and substance. You don’t see any footage from McCarroll’s time on the reality show itself. Eleven Minutes also doesn’t use editing techniques to embellish or fashion more drama than there actually is. You might wish it did — the documentary could use a little extra pizzazz from time to time. But there’s enough drama – and plenty of personality – to spare as we watch McCarroll and company put all the pieces together – a year’s worth of work all just for an 11-minute show, ”the most stupid end result,” McCarroll reasons with characteristic candor.
Eleven Minutes is a follow-up of sorts to director Michael Selditch’s hour-long documentary Project Jay, which aired on Bravo in early 2006. This time, Selditch works with Robert Tate to expose the labor and logistics involved in putting together McCarroll’s fashion line, from concept to production to press and presentation. McCarroll’s goal is to design sustainable fashion, friendly to the environmental and to animals, and accessible to the mass market. But the fashion industry is notoriously resistant to outsiders, even one as vivacious as McCarroll. It takes a lot of perseverance for a little payoff. Hopefully McCarroll has the will to push some more.