0 In Style

Meeting the filmmaker and subjects of Advanced Style

My friend and colleague, Sue Jacobs, was at the Toronto Film Festival in April to see the screening of Advanced Style the Documentary with the filmmaker, Ari Seth Cohen, and several of the subjects of his film. Sue shares her experience with us now!

Filmmaker Ari Seth Cohen and Sue Jacobs in Toronto in April

Filmmaker Ari Seth Cohen and Sue Jacobs in Toronto in April


It was a dreary, rainy evening Tuesday, April 29 and I was beside myself. I was going to meet Ari Seth Cohen at the World Premiere of his Advanced Style documentary at the Hart House Theatre. To say I fussed about what I would wear is a completely ridiculous understatement. 

However, once inside, walking down the long carpeted aisle to my seat, taking in all of my surroundings, for a moment, I forgot. And then I spotted them. Just behind me over my left shoulder. There they were all five of them, seated front row looking like the rest of us. Expectant. Calm. Excited. 

I calmed myself down before approaching and introducing myself. Making that gesture was incredible as Ari immediately rose, actually so did Joyce and Debra. Ari took my hand in both of his and thanked me for my support. We chatted and then Debra reached over and flicked my necklace telling me how much she loved it whilst Joyce extended her hand to quietly thank me for coming and introducing myself. She and I stood a moment talking about things, honestly I cannot recall what. It was a surreal moment for me. We had pictures taken, our arms around each other’s waists. I was thanked humbly again before I took my seat. I was floating.


sue and debra


The film captivated the enormously jammed packed theatre. Not a sound was heard. All eyes were forward. After the film, the ladies took to the stage for Q & A’s. They talked. Some deliberately, some in turn, sometimes all at once. It was like eavesdropping on a gathering in one of their living rooms.  I looked around observing the audience. Not a single eye faltered. Full-on smiles and grins on every face. Not one mobile device in sight.

These women were extraordinary: in their individuality, their energy, in their unmistakable beauty that rose from somewhere deep down within, in their zest for doing exactly what they want and in sharing their struggles and triumphs. Their message was solitary: Be your authentic self. Do it for you. No apologies. 

They weren’t acting in the film. They were living their lives—their way.  


Sue and Joyce

Sue and Joyce


It was an amazing experience. Meeting them before they took to the stage was very shifting. That was as much of my experience as the film, and their candid conversation on stage. They were real women who have collectively lived, loved, survived, and been successful, struggled, never married and suddenly infamous. The two I met were as down to earth as you and I. What a lesson in being and owning who and what you are no matter what. We’re all good enough. We just have to believe it.

(P.S. And I love that we’re friends on Facebook and that last week Debra wrote how much she liked my picture!)


Brenda here, Thanks Sue for sharing! If you can’t find this film in a theater near you, check it out on Netflix or on Amazon. You may find it transformational!


Advanced Style Blog

Advanced Style the Documentary



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