Blessed with breathtaking landscapes and abundant natural resources, the South American country of Venezuela has also become renowned in recent years as the home to uniquely beautiful women celebrated in international beauty pageants.
Indeed, Venezuela has claimed title to more global beauty competitions than any other nation in the world, successfully taking 6 Miss Universe, 6 Miss World, and 5 Miss International crowns.
The success of Venezuela’s pageant stars on the world stage has instilled an immense sense of national pride, while spawning an all-consuming obsession with physical appearance, and a desire by millions of Venezuelan girls to be a Miss.
Yet behind the glamor and fame that accompanies the pageants, there lies a more sobering portrait of what it means to be a woman in this Caribbean nation.
While millions of dollars are pumped every year into countless local and regional beauty contests and the powerful media interests that drive the industry forward invest massive resources in instilling the image of Miss Venezuela in the minds of young girls, essential services for women in the country are severely lacking, domestic violence is rampant, teen pregnancy is staggering, and deaths resulting from botched cosmetic surgeries are commonplace.
To be a Miss is a feature-length documentary journey that takes the viewer through the inner workings of Venezuela’s beauty factory, exploring the hopes and dreams of young models as they strive to become the next Miss Venezuela. Following three central protagonists, the film exposes the risks and rewards associated with this multi-billion dollar industry while showing how nationalism, personal ambition, and the influence of mass media have transformed the lives of ordinary women in the country.
To Be A Miss premiered at IDFA in Amsterdam in 2016 and has played at a number of other national and international festivals.