Mt. Airy filmmaker confronts body image, eating disorders in ‘Consumption’

Brittany Rafalak grew up watching movies with her father. This is when she remembers first falling in love with film. 

“Then, in high school, I had a lot of opportunities to explore what I wanted to do,” Rafalak shared. “From theater class, to film class, to starting my own film club. I got a lot of support from family, friends, peers, and teachers when I started making films in high school.”

So it was no surprise for friends and family when Rafalak moved from her native Colorado to Philadelphia in 2006 to pursue her bachelor of fine arts degree in film and digital video at the University of the Arts.

Upon graduating from University of the Arts, Rafalak settled in Mt. Airy while beginning coursework at The New School in New York for her master’s in film. She will graduate in May.

But on Saturday, the years of Rafalak’s hard work and dedication will culminate at the screening of her short film, and master’s thesis project, “Consumption.”

The film, which will be accompanied by a live improvised musical score, will be screened at 7 p.m. Saturday evening at the Filmtech School, 2019 S. Juniper St., in South Philadelphia.The improvised score will be composed by musicians Ian Rafalak (bass) Anwar Marshall (drums) Chris Aschman (trumpet) and Matt Davis (guitar). None of the musicians, except Ian Rafalak, who is serving as  musical director, will have seen the film before Saturday’s screening.

With Ian Rafalak’s guidance, the musicians will play through intuition and the emotions evoked by the film.

“Live music is so powerful,” Rafalak said. “And it’s such a different experience than hearing recorded sound. Music and film go so hand in hand, so it made me wonder what live music to film would be like,” Rafalak said of the inspiration behind movie’s live improvised score.

Rather than simply playing of sheet music, the musicians will have to have the presence and awareness to translate the film into sound.

As for the story itself, “Consumption” follows Corrine, a young woman who discovers food and struggles with her society’s almost barbaric rejection of the physical satiation of consumption.

The concept for the film is something Rafalak contemplated for quite some time.

“Experiencing and overcoming my own eating and body image issues, I began thinking about what life would be like without food and without hunger,” Rafalak said. “The film touches upon that but also speaks to judgment and perspective… the ways in which we often view or judge the practices of people or cultures different than our own.”

With over a year of writing, planning, casting, filming, and editing under her belt, Rafalak is excited to see her vision finally coming to fruition.

The film, which is 35 minutes long and filmed primarily in Mt. Airy and surrounding areas, was Rafalak’s first experience directing anything longer than just a few minutes.

“We filmed for 10 days and there were some that went very smoothly, and then others where nothing went right,” she said. “But I am proud with how the film turned out and so thankful for all the people who helped me along the way.

Saturday’s screening is free and open to the public.

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