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High on High Heels

They are the ultimate fashion statement. They are a mark of beauty. They are a symbol of
power. They are the subtle accessory we all take for granted. Today, high heels have a
multi-dimensional place in our ever-diverse world. While shaping women’s social identity and
personal expression they deliver on command and attention.

High On Heels is a new fashion film that explores all things heels for shoe lovers and those who are simply on the outside interested in looking in. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video this documentary was directed by Adelin Gasana and produced by Lola Kayode as an Atlanta-based collaboration between DocuJourney Productions and Lola Kay Productions. Entirely put together on a limited budget in metro-Atlanta in a little over a year’s time, the focus these two filmmakers aimed for was to explore the iconic and dynamic shoe with a global perspective.

So, where did heels come from? How did it get here? What does it represent? Why is it
popular? And, where is it going? These questions are what prompted Adelin Gasana and Lola
Kayode in the production of High On Heels. So, how did both filmmakers get inspired to do a
fashion film all about high heels? “Initially, I ventured out to work on a film about a mainstream,
pop culture topic,” Gasana remembers. “So, when Lola and I talked about her personal
experience of lingering back pain associated with wearing heels on a regular long-term basis we
thought high heels would make for quite the storyline for a documentary film.”

For the two young filmmakers what began as a cool topic of style critique and fashion intrigue over time evolved into a nuanced subject of women’s lifestyle and personal expression. With heavy
research and the conducting of multiple interviews, the film traverses a diverse range of women
representing various industries in entertainment, retail, health, and academia.

High On Heels features busy and vibrant Atlanta businesses like: Rocky’s Instant Shoe Repair,
Roulette Shoes, Pearl School of Modeling and Vertical Joe’s Fitness. Two health practitioners
make it in this fashion piece; Dr. Cheree Eldridge, a podiatrist at Village Podiatry Centers, and
Dr. Kerstin Halstead of Michael Family Chiropractic. With a “fly-on-the-wall” approach in
filmmaking, Adelin Gasana presents the everyday journey where heels make their lasting mark
on women. Social media influencers like Nzinga Imani and Greer Howard chime in. We listen to
entrepreneurs like JoJo St. Claire and Velicia Hill giving their honest perspectives. Plus,

Atlanta-based dance choreographers Jessica Washington and Torwa Joe who regularly teach in
4-inch heels and above are featured in the documentary. The film masterfully brings together all
the relevant and concerned individuals to share their valuable expertise into understanding the
journey of heels. As a conversational piece, the film uncovers the symbolism, evolution and
lifestyle trend of the high heel through the personal and professional insights of local shoe
designers, stylists, dancers, models, fashion bloggers, influencers, doctors, and everyday
women. For a master cobbler, it is his craft; for a shoe designer it is her work of art; for a model,
it is an accessory; for a podiatrist, it is their number one source of patients’ woes. But for a
woman—it is a measure of her empowerment; or is it?

From the classy pump, comfortable wedge, sexy stiletto, and exotic platform high heels are an
experience for women. They symbolize women’s highest attributes in society worth aspiring
to–professionalism, style, maturity, empowerment, confidence, beauty, sexiness, and
sophistication. They are also a source of women’s personal experience with discomfort and
pain. High On Heels paints the portrait of high heels as a character in Western society by
connecting its historical evolution with the nuance of women’s lifestyle. For better or worse, the
high heel is now women’s most public footwear. One historian in the documentary claims,
“High heels can never be neutral.” So, while it’s filled with so much emotional baggage it is still
the shoe women put on for events, display, performance, authority, and urbanity. No matter
the size, shape, or color of women high heels are more than just a shoe. One could argue that
heels are women’s sole mate. It fills their closets with the assurance that every expression
worth donning is ready and available.

High On Heels leaves nothing out in the long storyline of the high-heeled shoe. It covers the
history of heels which dates back to 10th century Persian cavalrymen who used heeled
footwear to keep their feet in stirrups in order to stabilize themselves while riding horses during
war. Over time heels evolved into a high-class fashion accessory for men and women who came
from a background of wealth and aristocracy. The film dives into the medical reality of
short-term and long-term health effects of wearing high heels with a podiatrist and chiropractor
leading the way. We watch and listen to everything that is associated with long-term wear like
arthritis, spinal issues, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, neuroma, broken bones, bunions, and blisters.
The film even profiles a modeling school training young girls how to walk and strut down the
runway in inch-high heels. As a frank, conversational piece this documentary goes into the
good, the bad, and the ugly. With the deep focus on nuance High On Heels represents a digital
document of women’s rites of passage into maturation and young adulthood as well as
women’s loss of innocence in concepts of beauty and sexuality. It is no wonder that in the film’s
local trek into independent distribution from Atlanta to the rest of the world women all over
the globe can resonate with this subject matter at a personal and psychological level. Who
knew a high-heeled shoe could invoke such a rich historical, societal, medical, and pop cultural

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