Beauty is a mere idea that dances amongst our senses; we can't see it, we can't touch it, but we can feel it, taunting us with the question of what defines such a subjective term? The most pure of beauty isn't the reflection we see in the mirror, but rather the essence that turns the ordinary to quite the extraordinary. It's a kaleidoscope to decode, but it's something we see not with our eyes but with our minds.
Steph Pedersen is the creative force and filmmaker behind the documentary Carpe Diem, a film that is creating a call to action on the flawed inclusivity and stigmas of people living with disabilities. Challenging societal perceptions on beauty through the stories of four individuals living with disabilities, capturing the raw perception on how they, as individuals, live through life as an lasting opportunity. By asking 'what is beauty?' Pedersen has stripped away from the confines of conventional beauty standards to provoke a shift within society by showing us the most pure forms of beauty are created through authenticity not conformity.
Steph Pedersen exclusively tells RUSSH about Carpe Diem and how the documentary will be premiering in honour of International Disability Day on the 3rd of December.
What inspired you to create the Carpe Diem Project?
I aimed to step outside the confines of fashion and create a substantial shift by questioning how society views beauty. All too frequently, beauty is unfairly reduced to a superficial level. This project was born from a competition themed "what is beauty?", where my goal was to illuminate the idea that beauty is present in every facet of life. By featuring individuals living with disabilities. I wanted to underscore this concept.
How did you decide on the name Carpe Diem for your documentary, and what is its significance?
The phrase reminds us to seize the present moment. For people living with disabilities, embracing the principle of Carpe Diem means recognising that life's challenges shouldn't hold them back. It encourages them to focus on their abilities rather then their limitations.
As a photographer, what was it about cinematography that drew you, for the first time, to film instead of photographing this project?
If I am being honest, I've never filmed anything in my life let alone a documentary (whoops!). I've always loved the nature of storytelling and obsessed with the art of cinematography- now more than ever. In pursuit of artist growth, I really wanted to film their stories and provide the audience with a more profound and intimate connection, allowing them to not just see but also hear and engage.
How does Carpe Diem create a call to action for societal change on the way we perceive beauty standards?
- Beauty goes beyond society's standards which are told by four incredible individuals living with a disabilities and their stories
- Provides awareness on what is happening and how these individuals feel
- People who live with a disability should be more appreciated and not looked down upon
- Our digitalised world has created this unrealistic expectation of what "We define as beautiful" leading to people having low self-esteem and body dysmorphia
- The belief that people living with a disability believe they're not beautiful due to not fitting in with society's expectations
Do you have any memorable experiences over the 10 months on creating this project?
I've gained four long lasting friendships. At the start of the year I went through an emotional time and these people gave me a sense of purpose again. We've laughed, shared stories and celebrated each others achievements over the past months. Everyone who contributed to Carpe Diem shares a piece of my heart. Jennifer, Brendon, Kim, Elizabeth and Kate I love you. Thank you for making my year.
How can viewers support the Carpe Diem project and advocacy for International Disability Day?
Viewers can actively support Carpe Diem project and advocate for International Disability Day by registering to attend the screening on the 3rd of December at the Studio Killa in Marrickville.
Register HERE to attend the premiere of Carpe Diem.