Young Minnesota filmmaker honored for film that explores true beauty

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2014 - 3:18 PM

Champlin Park student’s camera captured her subjects’ vulnerability — and their beauty — in her short film titled “Variegated.”

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Annalise Lamberty showed off a portion of her short film about beauty ­ideals. ELIZABETH FLORES Star Tribune

Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES , Star Tribune

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The teenage girls in the film are beautiful, with bright, expressive eyes, long lashes, and joyful smiles.

They laugh as the camera focuses on their defining features.

Yet these young minority women speak of self-doubt fueled by a beauty ideal that doesn’t acknowledge them.

“Women who are considered beautiful are more white, with straight hair, blue eyes. That’s what society sees as beautiful,” says one of the girls, ­Yasmin Megahed.

“I have spent a lot of my life striving to be like a white girl, having the long hair, being skinny, pretty nose, pretty face, smaller features. It’s what beauty is, but it’s not what I could ever be,” says Winnie Nyakaru.

Champlin Park High School filmmaker Annalise Lamberty captured her friends’ and classmates’ vulnerability and their beauty in her short film “Variegated.”

“I wanted to show that dichotomy,” said Lamberty, 17, of Champlin.

Her film was one of six finalists in the 2014 Girls Impact the World Film Festival, presented by the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative and ConnectHer.org. Lamberty beat out about 200 entries nationwide. Many of the entries tackled large global issues, including sex trafficking and refugees.

Lamberty chose to focus on an issue that women confront every day in the mirror — unattainable beauty ideals. She said she relishes telling stories about “everyday life we often overlook.”

Her film has been posted online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTSKo7XBGkg.

She has created short promotional and educational films for the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations.

On Wednesday, Lamberty will premiere a 30-minute docu­mentary titled “The Misunderstood: Muslims in America” as part of her final project for the high school’s International Baccalaureate program. She interviewed a wide range of people for the documentary, including Muslim community members and religious leaders and Muslim classmates.

She described interviewing one classmate who treated his faith as a closely guarded secret. “He talked a lot about his experience covering it up at school,” Lamberty said.

The senior hopes to study film at Boston University or Macalester College. She has been accepted to both.

‘I was just inspired’

Why is the Iowa-born strawberry blonde with blue eyes focusing her lens on issues faced by young minority women?

The issue of beauty ideals came up in her honors English class and in talking with friends. She said she has a diverse group of friends but didn’t really know their stories.

“It’s a personal growth thing. I didn’t know a lot about that experience,” Lamberty said. “I know so many great young women of color at my school and through other activities I am involved in. I decided to get them involved and interview them.”

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