Pret-a-Reporter

Carrie Brownstein Discusses Her Directorial Debut: Kenzo's 'The Realest Real' Film

Courtesy of Kenzo
Carrie Brownstein on the set of Kenzo's 'The Realest Real'

The 'Portlandia' co-creator explores the intersections of social media and reality for her first film short. "Each of us is always performing," she says.

From co-hosting Opening Ceremony's political show to premiering her new film for Kenzo on Monday evening, Carrie Brownstein is having a shining moment at New York Fashion Week.

The Portlandia co-creator teamed up with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim on a short called The Realest Real, a satire that explores the intersections of social media and reality, and what happens when those lines blur.

Filmed at the Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A., the movie sees social media-loving Abby (played by Spider-Man: Homecoming's Laura Harrier) brought to an institute where her digital fans become real-life followers (as in there's a line of people walking right behind her) and her celebrity crush (Natasha Lyonne, playing herself) becomes her "mom," which is a term of endearment on social media.

The film — written and directed by Brownstein — also stars Kim Gordon, Girl Meets World's Rowan Blanchard and House of Card's Mahershala Ali, all wearing Kenzo designs.


THE REALEST: Natasha Lyonne, left, Carrie Brownstein, Laura Harrier, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim and Mahershala Ali. (Photo: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

The idea for the film was sparked after Brownstein went to Kenzo's men's Paris show and previewed the women's collection, according to Lim. "We talked about this idea of fandom and fans going to concerts and that ritual of getting ready, so she took that idea and came back with this treatment," Lim said during the film's premiere party Monday evening at The Metrograph in Chinatown, where attendees included the film's cast, as well as Fred Armisen, Chloe Sevigny and Karen Elson.

Brownstein, who made her directorial debut with the project, explained that the film is about exploring the notion of performance in everyday life.

"We're always on these tiny stages. Everything is sort of a version of pageantry. That's no longer relegated to these monolithic entities like movie screens and television," Brownstein told Pret-a-Reporter. "Each of us is always performing so it does become about these micro-expressions ... because we're always turning the lens toward ourselves. ... What used to be sort of unconscious has become very conscientious and a little bit forced."

What interests Brownstein most about social media is "how it conflates high and low," she said. "Everything we do is mediated through a handful of screens with our laptops or phones or iPads, so that fame is on the same platform as the news, and a text message from the people we love — it's that kind of flattening of experience."

This film isn't meant to be a cautionary tale, though, said Brownstein.

"I'm just very interested in where that's taking us and how that both insulates us in terms of putting us inside a condensed environment, but potentially is creating a sort of padding where we're losing sense of other things," she explained, adding, "It is interesting to me that the people who are ostensibly the most famous are opting out. The velvet rope is gone and we all got into the club. The new elite is to be invisible."

Check out The Realest Real below and enjoy.

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