Vicki Vasilopoulos is a Greek-American journalist whose articles have been published in The New York Times, Esquire, New Jersey Monthly and Time Out New York. She spent over a decade as Senior Fashion Editor at WWDMen’s (formerly DNR), the men’s newsmagazine of Fairchild Fashion Media (a unit of Conde Nast). As a member of New York Women in Film and Television, Vicki has served on the screening and selection committee for its monthly film series showcasing the work of emerging female artists from all over the world.
Women and Hollywood: Please give us your description of the film playing.
Vicki Vasilopoulos: Men of the Cloth is an inspiring portrait of three Italian master tailors who confront the decline of the apprentice system as they navigate their challenging roles in the twilight of their career. The film unravels the mystery of their artistry and reveals how their passionate devotion to their Old World craft is akin to a religion.
WaH: What drew you to this story?
VV: I’ve always been fascinated with handmade things because I believe they possess a bit of the soul of the person who creates them. I truly admire these artisans who live a life of meaning and purpose and create clothing that’s as beautiful inside as it is outside. I consider them unsung heroes with skills that have been honed over the course of a lifetime.
By highlighting the proud legacy of Italian master tailors, I hope to inspire a dialogue about what we’re losing in a global economy that’s devoid of any personal connection between the creator and consumer. I believe that Men of the Cloth will resonate with a culturally diverse audience that relishes soulful pleasures delivered on a human scale.
WaH: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
VV: My biggest challenge was raising money as a first-time filmmaker without a track record for a project that doesn’t have an overt social issue at its core.
WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?
VV: Try to get a producing partner that shares your vision and is in it for the long haul.
WaH: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
VV: The biggest misconception about my work is that I’ve made a film about fashion, and that’s not the case (though it appeals to individuals who are interested in fashion and design). Men of the Cloth is a film about Italian artisans — these humble men who make exalted clothing — but generally speaking, it’s about what it means to find your true calling in life.
WaH: Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?
VV: Everyone’s talking about VOD and day-and-date releasing for indie films, but there’s no apparent consensus. In my case, I get continuous requests from folks who want to buy the DVD and organizations that want to hold screening events, so I’m trying to figure out a release strategy that makes sense for my film.
WaH: Name your favorite women directed film and why.
VV: I love the films of Mira Nair and Julie Taymor, but the one film directed by a woman that has resonated and influenced me the most is The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda. It came out around the time when I was starting to work on my own film and I was still exploring different documentary styles. I saw it at the Film Forum in New York and it blew me away. When I was studying art history at NYU The Gleaners was one of my favorite paintings by Millet. Varda’s idea that directors like herself engage in a kind of “artistic gleaning” is something that reflects my own sensibility.
Watch the trailer for Men of the Cloth: