Presenting her new Cassette Playa film, Blood Rites, as part of the final day of the London Collections: Men, Carrie Munden dealt with the idea of masculinity and manhood today. Looking at two very different characters, both British but both with different ideas of what that means, the film also features footage of tribal rituals as boys become men in Papa New Guinea. "As a female and as a menswear designer I am inspired by men and I'm interested in identity. The kind of boys that I use in my films are often warrior men and I wanted to explore what that meant on different levels," explains Mundane. "I really think that the way men see themselves has changed a lot recently. I think because of that men can feel a little lost in some ways. I wanted to look see if I could get an understanding of what masculinity meant in today's society." Talking exclusively to both of the models in her film for Dazed Digital, boxer Toby Leonard and Milliano Tordecilla who has a five year old son, Munden asks what it means to be a man...
Carri Munden: A lot of the footage that I used of you in the film was of you boxing. I wanted to ask you about that, when did you first start boxing and how important a part of your life is it?
Toby Leonard: When I was younger I always wanted to fight. I started boxing when I was about 13 but I didn't really get looked after by anyone there, so when I got a few years down the line I gave up. I was a teenager, started smoking, drinking. When I was 17 I got back in the gym as I realised that I loved being in the ring and really started training again.
CM: What is it about it that you like?
TL: I really like the discipline of it. When you are boxing, when you are in the ring it feels so different to anything else. I like the exchange of the punches, it's give and take.
CM: I love the fact that boxing is really mental as well as physical. You have to mentally beat them as well.
TL: It is very much a combination of both things. You can't win a fight without an understanding of both.
CM:The film that we made is really based on initiation rituals in Papa New Guinea and I'm interested in that idea here in the UK. When do you feel like you became a man?
TL: I don't really feel like that. I still think I'm a boy.
CM: So many people that I have spoken to have said that, people a lot older than you as well. I thought that was really interesting because I think if I asked girls that I know the same question, they would all consider themselves women. What do you think it is that would define you as a man?
TL: Responsibility. To have a family. Even then, a lot of people who have children young aren't men, they are still boys. Just because you have a kid it doesn't mean you are a man, you have to show your responsibility to achieve that.
Carri Munden: What is your background?
Milliano Tordecilla: My father is half Jamaican and half Chinese and my mum is from Chilé.
CC: Have you spent a lot of time in South America?
MT: Hardly at all actually. I was there for a year when I was five, but haven't really been back. I remember absolutely loving it though. Where we lived was very urban, lots of villages and towns, but it was an amazing place to be. I used to travel by myself into the forest, I was always playing outside, hiding and then appearing from nowhere. Everyone used to call me The Shadow. I was a natural born native.
CM: You have a really diverse background, but do you also consider yourself British?
MT: Yes definitely, I have a Union Jack badge that I wear a lot. To me I'm British, I also have an I heart Camden tattoo. I believe where you come from is who you are. I grew up there and even though Camden has changed a lot, it is a place that's ultimately about being who you want to be and I really connect with that.
CM: I can see that, what I really liked about you was how fearless you are. When I was starting this project I was looking at all these men's initiations around the world and comparing it to UK culture to see if we had similar things here. I also wanted to understand what manhood means to different people. One of the things that stood out was in the film of the ritual in Papa New Guinea, when the boys are being scarred they are held by their uncle, not their father. It is the uncle that they look to for advice as the mother trusts her brother more than the child's father, which I found interesting. Did you have a role model growing up?
MT: I grew up around a lot of people that made mistakes constantly and they never learnt from their mistakes. So for me, growing up was about learning from the things that the people around me did wrong and knowing not to do it myself.
CM: Did you have any positive role models outside of the family?
MT: I was really secluded as a child so my only real role model was the TV.
CM: Was there anyone on TV that was a role model for you?
MT: Michael Jackson. I grew up watching him and when I was younger I grew up feeling I had no talents. I didn't realise 'til I was about 17, 'how do I know I have no talents if I haven't really tried?'. That's when I found out that I could dance and act. I never knew these things, growing up I saw people follow their dreams and fail and it was intimidating, but seeing Michael Jackson made me feel like 'why do you care if you fail or not?'. Unless you fail you're never going to learn.
CM: I always think it's better to try and fail and have that experience...
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