There’s a new documentary airing this Wednesday (9/26) at 9 pm on TVO in Canada called “Chubby Chaser”.
Essentially, Chubby Chaser is a one hour POV film from a filmmaker who likes a bit of fat on women and wonders if he’s alone and why the beauty ideal is so thin. Blending live action with animation, the film is a creative hybrid using collages of personal stories and Jeff’s history to tackle issues of acceptance, health, and the high pressure ideals of beauty. (from the documentary website)
I had the opportunity to interview the director of the film, Jeff Sterne. Jeff is a Canadian filmmaker, who has coordinated and managed a variety of film and television productions, working for the National Film Board of Canada/ Ontario Centre and a wide collection of Independent Toronto Production Companies. During this time he wrote and directed a series of short creative films that have screened at numerous International Film Festival. Oh, and he’s attracted to fat women, hence his most recent release.
Phil – Tell us a bit about yourself. Is there a chubby woman in your life?
Jeff – I was married at 23 and still together with my BBW wife after 24 years.
Phil – Why did you want to make this documentary?
Jeff – I wanted to make something that would make my niece proud of her body. She was the biggest kid in her grade 6 class. The film’s being broadcasted as she’s starting High School, hopefully it will be a positive tool as she goes through this period in her life.
Phil – For people in the fat community, the name “chubby chaser” is similar to “fat admirer”, meaning that it carries more of a fetish connotation. Did you think about that before giving your work a title, or do you feel that your documentary has a broader scope than just the fat community, and thought the name “chubby chaser” was something people outside the community were more familiar with?
Jeff – Actually Chubby Chaser was just a working title, it was what my nieces and nephews called guys who liked big girls in High School. We ended up just sticking with it.
Phil – In the documentary, social commentator Russell Smith comments that men actually prefer a larger size woman. If that is the case, why is there so much fat shaming and prejudice in our world?
Jeff – His theory was that women instigated this shame and prejudice; I couldn’t really find one specific thing except it looks like it started in America.
Phil – Latest surveys estimate that almost 67% of Americans are considered overweight or obese. I’m sure there are similar estimates for Canada. What do you attribute that to?
Jeff – I’m not really a health expert nor did I do a lot of research on the physical aspects of body weight so I really don’t know.
Phil – Are you part of the BBW social scene in Canada, particularly the Toronto area? Have you ever attended any of the Club Attitude events near you? If so, what were your impressions?
Jeff – Haven’t been single in a long time so didn’t really know anything about the community. I went to a couple of Club Attitude events while working on my doc, they were great.
Phil – I understand you attended Vegas Bash in putting together your film. As a married man at that type of event, what were your impressions?
Jeff – I actually went there to talk with other guys for my doc. I’m not really a big fan of Vegas. I noticed most people went to hook up but there were also some really fun events.
Phil – In making your documentary, you met with the publisher of BODACIOUS, Zik Ukajeje. What were your impressions of him, and his “product”. Also, Zik feels that his magazine/website helps to promote size acceptance. How do you feel about that?
Jeff – I truly believe Zik’s heart is in the right place.
Phil – We have NAAFA working for size acceptance in the US. Do you have a comparable group in Canada?
Jeff – The first time I heart of a political group for size acceptance was when I saw a friend of mine Allyson Mitchell put on an activist event called Pretty Porky and Pissed Off. Most political groups up here just follow NAAFA; it really is the heart of the movement and is really accessible.
Phil – How do you feel about Bill Fabrey, who put himself into national ridicule to openly admit on television years ago that he was attracted to fat women, primarily as a gesture of love and support for his wife, who had been ridiculed and ostracized in the past? Do you feel that your openness in this documentary is different now that what Bill Fabrey went through in the late 80’s into the 90’s?
Jeff – Actually Bill was my last shoot on my documentary and I really identified with him, specially cause I had to go home and edit something that everyone would see. I remember the very conservative time Bill was on TV. I think I have it easier.
Phil – Having traveled to Canada in the past, I’ve had the feeling that Canadians seem more accepting of size than most Americans are. Would you agree with that statement?
Jeff – When I was in the US I got the impression that some States are more accepting than others. I think up here it’s the same, some Provinces aren’t as uptight as others.
Phil – Your documentary Chubby Chaser is scheduled to premiere on TV Ontario Weds Sept 26th at 9pm. Has the buzz about your work gotten you excited as well?
Jeff – I actually finished the film a year ago so am just getting back into it.
Phil – Will there be a US release of your film as well? If not, will we be able to view it at some point on the internet?
Jeff – My Producer and the Distributor are still working on it.
Phil – Thanks, Jeff!
I read a note from the producer, Jeannette Loakman, that once aired in Canada, she is contemplating putting the film up on Distrify, but it will not be made available on YouTube. I’m guessing/hoping that it will not only be on the video ppv sites, but will be available on Hulu or TopDocumentaryFilms sometime soon.
I’m also hoping that Jeff returns with another film about the fat community, this time making the distinction between the social part of it vs. those who labor for fat/size acceptance.