As early as 22 years of age, Gigi Ben Artzi was already a well-known fashion photographer in his home country. But it was when he turned his lens away from glamour and onto the world around him that he felt he could ask the questions looming deep his mind.
In Downtown Divas (2014) he conducted a series of interviews with female drug addicts about their realities and ambitions. The film sparked immediate controversy upon its release, garnering over 1 million views on Vimeo within a few weeks. The film was praised as an “eye-opening look into Russian drug addiction and prostitution” by Bullet Media, with Juxtapoz going as far as saying the “(the) film shows the tenderness and warmth that is still present within each woman and how even though they may have fallen upon hard times, there is still hope within each of them for a better day ahead.” Other features included Metro Magazine, Oyster Magazine and countless others
His next project and first narrative short film E.W.A (2016) followed the life a Russian teenager with a mysterious disease that caused her nose to permanently bleed, culminating in a scene where she produces an installation projection of her own blood on white canvas in front of an audience of art house spectators.
The film won the Encounters Short Film Festival and was nominated to dozens of others worldwide festivals including A.F.I and Marfa Film Festival. It was praised for its cinematography and depth in depicting the isolation of its main heroine. E.W.A, as well as most of Gigi’s other works, premiered online on renown magazine Nowness.