Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Women's Wear Daily Recognizes the Outsider

The Outsider
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

By Sarah Haight

There's a moment in Jennifer Venditti's documentary, "Billy the Kid," when the film's 15-year-old star, all dangling adolescent arms and legs, paces the pavement outside his school. "I know I'm unique," he says in a voice-over in the film, which makes its theatrical debut Dec. 5 at New York's IFC Center. "I just don't let it go to my head."

It's an apt line for a film made by a woman whose career has heretofore been defined by hitting upon specific, even rare, beauty in unlikely people — the finely creased face of a coal miner, the sloped slouch of a Penn State undergrad. As a casting director for magazines (most often W, for which she has collaborated on 14 shoots since 1997), fashion shows, film and advertising campaigns, Venditti has stomped through one-traffic-light towns in West Virginia, crashed an African-American prom in Detroit and corralled a young butcher hauling meat on a downtown New York street (the latter for a Harry Winston shoot, no less). Long before Dove soap ads began celebrating the supple curves of "real women," Venditti was scouring suburban malls and street fairs, chasing after little girls and old men alike — the so-called ordinary folk whose specific appearances, and indeed flaws, have made them compelling models in campaigns for Levi's, Benetton and Banana Republic, among others.



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