by JOANELLE MULRAIN
Since the rough cut of his Betty Page Reveals All independent film was shown at SunRay Cinema a couple years ago as part of the Jacksonville Film Festival, Jacksonville native Mark Mori has been working diligently on the final edit on model icon and photo pin-up superstar Bettie Page. Now completed, Mori is pleased to announce that his Bettie Page film (1 hr. 41 min.) will premier in New York and Los Angeles, followed by theatrical release in other cities including Chicago, San Francisco, Nashville, Seattle, Berkeley, Atlanta and other cities. Later in 2014, there will be a launch with international distribution (Arte – French/German TV channel) and national video-on-demand cable systems, including Netflix, Amazon and other retail outlets. This is a dream realized for Mori, an EMMY-award winning and Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker.
Bettie Page is bigger than ever. In 2012, she was listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 dead celebrities, and her brand continues to make millions. Elizabeth Taylor leads the men and women as number six, Marilyn Monroe as number seven, and Page is number 10 sandwiched between Steve McQueen and Richard Rodgers, the latter two probably only recognized by the baby-boomer crowd. Licensed Bettie Page products are making record sales in Bettie Page stores, including branded dresses, shoes and lingerie.
Mori’s film has won in top-tier national film festivals, including Best Feature Documentary in the Garden State Film Festival (Asbury Park, NJ), Best Documentary in the Cinekink Festival (New York, NY), and it achieved acclaimed status for the upcoming Gold Coast Film Festival (Long Island, NY). He has also been asked to premier the film in the prestigious DOC NYC Festival.
And what is national media saying about Mori and his doc – take a look:
“absorbing culture doc,” “lively soundtrack,” “heartbreakingly precise”
The Bay Area Reporter
“One of the hotter DocFest tickets”
San Francisco Bay Guardian
“fascinating,” “Best Bet”
New Orleans Times Picayune, New Orleans Film Festival
“takes a salty, canny account of everything: her father’s alleged molestation … the lovemaking skills of various ex-husbands; facing down the prudes…”
Wall Street Journal
“slick, well edited, entertaining,” “the definitive documentary on the only pin up queen in history that can truly be called an icon”
“Mori’s overall approach is right on target, giving viewers a good eyeful of what they want to see,” “truly Americana at its hottest,” “Recommended with affection”
Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazine
Will Coviello, Gambit, New Orleans
“for the first time, Ms. Page is speaking for herself,” “It’s a peek into the mind of the Queen of Curves,” “Hearing her tell these tales herself, with her personality and razor sharp wit coming through is a revelation.”
“fascinating,” “disarming,” “the idea of Bettie Page is always timeless”
Hubert Vigilla, The Flixist
“marries authentic visuals with the real story behind the woman,” “humorous, if at times confronting…tackles not only the juicy bits, but the difficult issues,” “it is her biting wit that makes the film so compelling,” “plenty of stories that captivate and entertain the audience,” “strikes an excellent balance between vintage and modern”
Pin-Up Perfection Magazine
Articles in support of the film include a mini-interview with Mori in the upcoming November Playboy, noting Mori’s interview with Hugh Hefner is in the film. Hefner knew Betty personally in her early years and featured her as the first holiday centerfold in December, 1955. Additional articles in Sex In Cinema issue and Penthouse also feature the making of the documentary.
The film is rated (R) Graphic Sexual Content and Nudity Throughout, and Mori is on the edge of a huge publicity roll-out about to be unleashed this Fall.
“I first met and interviewed Betty in 1996, and recorded a series of interviews until her death of natural causes,” he says. This new film has already begun to open doors and has gained international attention for Mori, and rave reviews have been published in the New York Times and LA Times.
Parallel to this important launch, Mori has already begun to explore and film “true crime” TV shows. He has completed two seasons for “Deadly Sins” on the Investigation Discovery Channel with re-enactments of intriguing real-life, action-focused films. He has also finished The Killer Speaks for A&E. If that did not keep him busy enough, he has started Monumental Mysteries for the Travel Channel.
“It’s just as hard as ever to make a documentary,” Mori explains. “Distribution, however, has changed, and you now have the power to do it yourself, including selling DVDs and digital downloads that cut out the middle-man, so the indie filmmaker can actually make some money.”
He is using social media to the extreme to develop the global Bettie Page brand, and he has developed relationships with the Page Fan Club, which has already received more than 37k Facebook likes, and 100k-200k clicks on the site every week – and this is just the beginning. YouTube has registered more than an amazing two million views. Mori is on the way to making Betty Page a household word for the millennium age group. By marketing the film to Netflix and foreign TV, he has been able to increase the fan base exponentially. Mori is also speaking publicly in New York on panels hosted by the Producer’s Guild. In addition, his website includes original Page autographed photographs and other ephemera for sale, including t-shirts, posters and memberships to the Fan Club.
Bettie died in 2008, but her sister is in the Atlanta area, and her brother is in Nashville. “I met Bettie’s nieces at her funeral,” Mori says, as he was given exclusive permission to film it, and there are excerpts in the final cut of the movie. Mori is hoping the family can attend the Atlanta and Nashville premieres and be recognized. In fact, Mori was even given a rare picture of Bettie’s father, plus previously unpublished photos of Bettie from age 13 – 16 to include in the film.
When asked what Bettie would think about of all of the publicity and hoopla, Mori says, “She would never understand what the fuss is all about and why people are interested in her.”
When asked who Mori thinks is parallel to Bettie today, he says, “Lady Gaga has an interesting business strategy, as does Beyonce and Katie Perry.” “Perry just released Roar, a music video set in a jungle scene mirroring Page’s Africa USA photo series (shot in Boca Raton).”
Remembering the Lady Gaga response to the “cone bra,” it was Bettie Page who first wore it in 1955, way before Gaga and Madonna, who brought it out in her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour. Bettie lives on in the 21st century. Mori says, “She has emerged as a beacon of hope for young women who believe in anti-authoritarianism.” Bettie did not believe beauty required sexuality, rather it required self-confidence, a belief that every woman has beauty.
In her younger years, she was Salutatorian in her high school class, just missing being Valedictorian. She attended college at Peabody, now part of Vanderbilt, and missed obtaining her Master of Education for teaching by four points.
Early on, she became the number-one posing photo actress of all time, and she was a natural beauty. She developed the style of this particular kind of photography. Bettie was self-taught, and even sewed her own clothes for the now infamous photo shoots. In response to the hot photos featuring her in scantily dressed outfits, these hand-sewn styles have been made famous by modern designers in Paris and Milan. In 2012, Time magazine named Bettie one of the most influential women in fashion, and Men’s Health magazine listed her in the top 10 hottest women of all time.
Busy making her way in the world, Page always wanted children. At one point, she did miscarry, however, she never had children of her own. She eventually married a man with three children, and it was doomed from the start, as his children did not like Page and their relationship became impossible. Some people think this internal family stress may have triggered mental illness.
Her later years were tough. She was booked into jail for allegedly attacking her landlord with a knife. Subsequently, she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and found guilty by reason of insanity, which lead to a 10-year incarceration in the Patton State Prison in California.
After serving her time, she became a recluse until her death, except for visits by Mori in the mid-1990’s, who was interested in her life and character as a woman who left a huge imprint on American culture.
“I don’t think she would even be interested in coming to her own premier, that was not her style,” Mori comments. “Her global image is in inverse proportion to her understanding of its impact today regarding what’s happening to her brand. She was genuine in real life and garnered no self-censorship. She is who she is, and Bettie never thought of herself as special, rather it was her work, how she made her livelihood, it was how she made money to live.”
Mori is convinced that Page totally understood her body image, and knew exactly how to handle it.
“She knew she was attractive and had to keep guys at bay. In fact, she carried a brick in her purse when she walked down the streets of New York. Her job was to keep her health and her body in shape, so she worked out three times a week,” Mori continued.
Mori’s interest never waned to do a documentary on America’s most famous pin-up girl. In the 1950’s, her audience was primarily male. Today, she has a huge female audience, mostly young women to whom she has become a revered icon.
As this film is released, Jacksonville can be proud of its own, as Mori continues down the road to success, one film at a time. This in-depth film on Betty Page may certainly become as iconic as its subject, and catapult Mori onto a new level as a globally recognized professional filmmaker.
Exposing Mark Mori's Bettie Page Documentary to the World
by JOANELLE MULRAIN