The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe

Lauren Greenfield will be in Boston for three screenings of her first film, 'Thin.'
By leslie brokaw
February 25, 2007


Lauren Greenfield was born in Boston, raised in Los Angeles, and educated at Harvard University, where she studied film in the 1980s, even traveling the world for nine months as part of the visual anthropology program. But after she graduated she put movies on the back burner and focused on photography.

Greenfield shoots people in their element, from the rich in China to families in LA food courts to teens growing up fast in Milan. Her photo essay "Girl Culture," about young women's relationships with their bodies, was turned into a book and touring exhibit, and made a stop at Tufts University a few years back.

She's been successful with that part of her career: In 2005, American Photo magazine put Greenfield and the other photographers of the VII Photo Agency third on its list of the 100 Most Important People in Photography, just behind Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein of Getty Images at No. 1 and Annie Leibovitz at No. 2. (Greenfield's husband, Frank Evers, also a Harvard grad, is VII's managing director.)

So when she decided to focus on anorexia and bulimia among women and make her first movie, she was stretching into territory that was both new and familiar.

"I had photographed there a few times," Greenfield says of the Renfrew Center, a residential treatment facility in Florida where the documentary ultimately was shot. "But it was very difficult to get access and get trust. We were in development on the idea for two years, talking to Renfrew, talking to their staff, talking to HBO. We did a development film to see how the process would work or not work."

"Thin," the documentary Greenfield made with director of photography Amanda Micheli, another Harvard graduate, is another strong work. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Independent Film Festival of Boston last April, and the Documentary Jury Prize at the Newport International Film Festival in June. In November, it debuted on HBO, and it continues to play on the station.

"Thin" and Greenfield will be back in Boston this week for three presentations featuring post-film Q&A: Monday at 7 p.m. at the Harvard Film Archive; Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre; and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at 8 St. Mary's St. in Boston, in an event sponsored by the BU's Photographic Resource Center .

The Brattle show is hosted by the Harris Center for the Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital, whose director, Dr. David Herzog, wrote an essay for Greenfield's 2006 book, "Thin." (Greenfield has also developed an exhibit around the topic that includes large-scale portraits, excerpts from the women's diaries, and video clips. That exhibit opened last week at the Women's Museum in Dallas.)

Greenfield says the film and her other projects have tended to orbit around the themes of how women relate to each other and themselves. "Renfrew had all this interesting 'girl culture ' going on between the women," she says. "The same dynamics as between teenagers, but in a more intense way, because they were in treatment: competition and comparing, bonding and friendship, drama and gossip and cliques."

The web site thindocumentary.com has details on the film, screenings, and Greenfield's work.