Directed by Julianna Villarosa
Using physical media (16mm, VHS) destroyed by Coca-Cola, “The Real Thing” contrasts the famous ad “I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke” with The Coca-Cola Company’s 2018 scandal: unconscionable water privatization in Chiapas, Mexico.
About the Director
Julianna Villarosa is a scientist-turned-filmmaker, activist, and educator. Her work explores ecology, place, and human-environment relationships. Select features and screenings include Vimeo Staff Picks, The Atlantic, Slamdance Film Festival, Walker Art Center, Orphan Film Symposium, Discovery Channel, the National Park Service, and more. She is a 2019 Student Academy Awards semi-finalist and an MFA Candidate in Film & Video Production at the University of Iowa.
To mirror this real-life devastation, I destroyed different moving image formats (16mm, VHS) using practical techniques such as soaking undeveloped film in Coca-Cola, bucket-processing film with a prototypical caffenol recipe - ‘coca-colanol’ - developed for this project, and handling magnetic tape with Coca-Cola-laced fingertips. The resulting warped images and sounds are captivating and unsettling.
Now more than ever, I believe there’s a need for social justice-related work that is formally different, that exists outside of traditional documentary. My hope is that this hybrid experimental + documentary, film + video short will not just bring new awareness but provoke real change.
It was a total experiment. I had no idea what would happen to the film (outside of reading about how Coca-Cola destroys your body). Oh, did I mention that I used to make ads for Coca-Cola? Yep. Everyone needs to earn a living, but I didn't feel good about this line of work and I quit. "The Real Thing" was a way for me to make amends.