Documentary Filmmaker Releases Topless Shock Syndrome

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Documentarian Chris Stearns announces the release of his new film Topless Shock Syndrome. The nearly hour long documentary will be released through video on demand via the internet at on Sunday, August 25th, 2013.

I didn't expose myself, I exposed everyone else.
— Holly Van Voast

In his film, Mr. Stearns focuses on the story of New York City artist Holly Van Voast. She has gained notoriety all over the globe, due to her work as “The Topless Paparazzo”.

Mr. Stearns, a high school friend of Ms. Van Voast, was compelled to tell this story through his lens as he saw people describing Holly as a crazy exhibitionist because she goes topless in public.

In New York State the right for women to go without a shirt anywhere a man does is protected. However, the film shows this is a very difficult ideal to uphold in a society that has little concern for women seeking such equality. It is made very clear that the women in the film are subjected to harassment, hate speech and much worse. Most women only go out in public without a shirt as a form of protest at organized events. But none of them have pushed the boundaries like Ms. Van Voast and the other women seen in the film.

Using interviews and Holly’s self-recorded street footage Stearns edits together a powerful story that explores artistic expression, gender equality and the troubling practices of law enforcement. Stearns discovers that what started out as a very personal story really is a part of a bigger story of a society struggling with its own intolerance. Sometimes amusing and sometimes disturbing, the film captures the world as told by Holly and other women of the top free movement.

The release date coincides with the celebration of Go Topless Day in the U.S. The following day is Women's Equality Day, marking the anniversary of women earning their right to vote on the basis of Gender Equality.

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Chris Stearns