Mariam Schaghaghi, film critic, Hamburg

Film journalist Mariam loves to be invited into other people’s thoughts. Her devices: speaking six languages, a passion for culture and arts paired with a lot of empathy and interest. After having earned a double degree at the famous Sorbonne University, Mariam chose to write for magazines such as Vogue, Glamour and IN Style. Based in Hamburg, Germany, she has traveled along the international film festival circuit for years: Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto – that’s her minimum. But she might add Zurich, London, Marrakech and Dubai or others.

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21 May 2013

The Bling Ring

CANNES: Today our guest Editor Mariam Schaghaghi meets one of my favorite film directors, screen writers and producers, Sofia Coppola, at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. I love all her films because they always have the most beautiful pictures.

CANNES: We’re sitting in the “Movie Stars Lounge” in the Carlton Hotel. The weather outside on the Croisette is bad, it is raining cats and dogs, the palm trees are shaken by the wind – not glamourous at all! But all the people on the Riviera swear that the weather is always bad during the Film Festival. However, I had sunnier days than this in Cannes!

Sofia’s outfit is also much more pragmatic than elegant: she wears dark trousers and a white and blue, simple linen shirt with it. Basta. No high heels, no fanciness whatsoever.

All the extravagancies Sofia Coppola has left for her four actors of “The Bling Ring”. Middle-class girls from the Valley who are fascinated with the lifestyle of Hollywood stars – and who break into the celebrities’ villas to steal luxury handbags, jewellery, clothes. The “Bling Ring” gang really existed – Sofia had read about the college students in a Vanity Fair article, “The Suspects wore Louboutins”.

Sofia, yesterday a real heist took place in Cannes: Chopard jewellery worth around 1 million dollars was robbed from a hotel. Was this some PR for your movie?
Yeah, it really sounds like that, doesn’t it? A publicity heist for our movie!

What fascinated you most when you read the Vanity Fair article?
It felt immediately like an interesting movie: a group of kids out of control. The story reveals a lot about contemporary lifestyle, and it could not have taken place ten years ago. It is so different to be a teenager nowadays. It’s hard to figure out your identity with that much information you get from the internet. It’s pop culture overload.

You had a privileged upbringing yourself. You were surrounded by affluence and were used to Hollywood luxury. How did you experience popularity? What made you not become like those kids yearning for more and more status symbols?
It was a different time. We didn’t have reality TV. There was not this emphasis on status and brands. Reality TV brought that concept up, that anybody can be famous.

Did you have some heist movies in mind when you prepared this one?
No, but I let the kids watch some classic heist movies like “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “Ocean’s Eleven”or “Bonnie and Clyde”. They should get a romantic and fun approach to heists. But I didn’t want my movie to look fun and romantic!

Is your movie also a portrait of Los Angeles society?
Those kids are obsessed with the culture based on appearances, status and fame. That was their focus. I think it’s valuable for American society, not only for L.A. The influence of tabloid stars and reality TV is all over America.

So you see a different lifestyle in Europe then? You are often going back and forth as your husband Thomas Mars is French...
I live in New York and Paris sometimes. For me, lifestyle in Europe is different. The focus is different. The emphasis on appearance is less strong. But: The Bling culture is international! And it’s growing.

You are a mother of two girls. If “Bling Culture” is something of a zeitgeist phenomenon, how do you want to protect your children from it?
I try to keep my daughters as innocent as much as I can. I control what they are exposed to. I try to be aware of what they are watching. For the Bling kids, the parents were not very involved in their education. They were hardly present.

You shot in Paris Hilton’s house. How did that work out?
Well, she was one of  the victims and offered to show us around in her house. The nightclub in her house that we are showing is real! It was interesting to see that Paris World. She likes it that way, it’s fun for her.

You are also a spokesperson for Louis Vuitton. What amount of luxury do you find justifiable and not gross?
That’s up to any person, I appreciate the side of luxury brands that make beautiful quality. I like a lot of things in moderation. In this story, it’s more the flashy side that I don’t respond to as much. But I’m no purist.

8 April 2013

Elle Fanning

Film journalist Mariam loves to be invited into other people’s thoughts. Her devices: speaking six languages, a passion for culture and arts paired with a lot of empathy and interest. After having earned a double degree at the famous Sorbonne University, Mariam chose to write for magazines such as VOGUE, GLAMOUR and IN Style. Based in Hamburg, Germany, she has traveled along the international film festival circuit for years: Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto – that’s her minimum. But she might add Zurich, London, Marrakech and Dubai or others. Meet our cosmopolitan cinéaste who will from time to time contribute to my page with her interviews - this time with an interview with actress Elle Fanning.

Elle was not even three years old when she started her career. She began acting playing the younger version of her sister Dakota’s characters in the mini-series “Taken” and the movie “I am Sam” with Michelle Pfeiffer. On April 9th, Elle celebrates her 15th birthday. She is mainly known for her starring roles in Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” and the box office success “We Bought a Zoo” with Scarlett Johansson.

In London, I met the blonde beauty in Soho to talk about her most recent movie, “Ginger and Rosa” (German movie release April 11th, 2013).

LONDON:
ELLE, YOUR NEW MOVIE “GINGER AND ROSA” IS ABOUT TWO TEENAGERS, WHERE THE ONE STARTS AN AFFAIR WITH THE OTHER’S FATHER. DO YOU HAVE A BEST FRIEND WHO SHARES THE UPS AND DOWN OF YOUR LIFE?
ELLE: I do have a best friend and I’ve known her since I was 9 when I ent to a regular school. I met her there. She’s definitely my best friend. It was good to have that so I could draw from the experience of having someone for this movie! Ginger is at that age where you’re looking for someone to trust outside of your family. Not your parents – you need someone else. I think there’s a way that you talk to best friends that there is like a secret code, you can read each other’s minds. Ginger and Rosa were eveb born on the same day – you can’t really get any closer. That’s what makes the betrayal that much harder.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND AS YOU WORK A LOT?
ELLE: When I do a film it’s probably just a couple of months. So the rest of the year I’m at home really. But we call each other on the phone and text and all that, so we still do keep in touch.

DOES THE MOVIE GIVE A REAL PORTRAIT OF GIRLS YOUR AGE, THINKING ABOUT IDEOLOGIES AND RELIGION? DO THESE TOPICS OCCUPY YOUR MIND?
ELLE: Yeah, I think it’s the time where you want to be an adult but you don’t want all the responsibilities of being an adult. You still want to be a kid, you still want to be free and childlike. So it’s sort of like you’re trying to find your place in the world, you’re trying to find what’s my view on that subject. Ginger and Rosa are questioning death – especially death – because they grow up in the Sixties at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. Through that menace, they could all die tomorrow at just the press of a button. I tried to put myself in that position of thinking that way – and it was really frightening to me!

CAN YOU RELATE IN GENERAL TO HAVING A CRUSH ON AN OLDER GUY - LET’S NOT SAY MEN!
ELLE: (laughs) Well I think it’s a girl’s like fantasy. Like, I have a crush on Ryan Gosling.

DOESN'T EVERYBODY?!
ELLE: Everyone has, okay, so you know what I mean? Girls have posters of older guys on their walls so it’s kind of that idea. But for Rosa it’s that time, especially during the 50s and 60s, where women shift from being housewives to being liberated. That structured way of life changed completely. It’s more just free. From that you see how it’s possible for someone to have a relationship with someone older.

YOU STARTED SO EARLY – DO YOU STILL GET CRUSHES ON ACTORS – EXCEPT RYAN GOSLING...?
ELLE: Yeah, I still get so starstruck with people, you hear names like Angelina Jolie and it’s like ‘Oh my gosh!’ You don’t see them as real at first. Then I did a movie with her. When I was meeting her for the first time she gave me a huge hug and was like, ‘We’re gonna have so much fun working together’ and I was like right, I’m looking at her – this is her! It’s like an out of body experience in a way – but then you come to realise that they’re just people.

Interview: Mariam Schaghaghi

31 January 2013

May I Introduce to You...

LONDON: Today I would like to introduce to you my childhood friend and now internationally acclaimed film critic, author and editor Ms. Mariam Schaghaghi. She has met practically every actor you might think of. George Clooney? She knows him since “Batman Returns”. Brad Pitt? Since “Seven Years in Tibet”, which has been quite a while....

Film journalist Mariam loves to be invited into other people’s thoughts. Her devices: speaking six languages, a passion for culture and arts paired with a lot of empathy and interest. After having earned a double degree at the famous Sorbonne University, Mariam chose to write for magazines such as VOGUE, GLAMOUR and IN Style. Based in Hamburg, Germany, she has traveled along the international film festival circuit for years: Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto – that’s her minimum. But she might add Zurich, London, Marrakech and Dubai or others. Meet our cosmopolitan cineaste who will from time to time contribute to my page with her interviews.

NAOMI WATTS: “THE IMPOSSIBLE”

Beware of her sweet looks: Blonde hair, beautiful face, smooth sea-blue eyes, dimples in her cheeks that seem to embrace her beautiful smile. But once she stands in front of her camera, her acting force is striking. Her intensity is almost too painful to watch – like a force of nature. Now she shows this intensity in the real-life drama “The Impossible” that comes to our cinemas these days. She portrays a mother who fights for survival after the Tsunami hit her family during their Thailand vacation... and got her second Oscar nomination for it! So let’s cross the fingers for Naomi: On the 24th of February, she might finally take home a golden statue.

NAOMI, DID YOU EXPLORE IN THIS FILM BEING A PARENT?
NAOMI: I’ve played mothers lots of times, even before I was a mother myself. But yeah, I mean I worry about my children every single day in the tiniest of ways, or the worst possible ideas come into my head. I just worry, worry, worry all the time about their safety. I think definitely, having been a mother and playing this character added a weight to it.



YOU HAVE TWO SONS. ARE YOU A PROTECTIVE MOTHER?
NAOMI: Yes, I am. But I don’t think I’m neurotically cautious, I’m just very cautious. Yet, I want them to feel brave and want to trust them but I do find myself going, ‘Oh, just be quiet, let them explore it a bit more’. Trial and error, you know. 



WAS IT DIFFICULT TO ACT SUBMERGED IN THE WATER?
NAOMI: Yes! I swallowed a lot of water! This was much more difficult than I ever imagined – also the underwater stuff, where I was sort of anchored to a chair that was spinning and things being thrown at you and you’re running out of breath...
The panic that you get into when you’re underwater, it just makes you crazy. It really did make me crazy.

DID YOU REGRET IT AT THAT MOMENT TO HAVE SAID YES TO THAT MOVIE?
NAOMI: No. Because I got tiny glimpses into what these people really went through when the giant wave hit them in 2004.

DO YOUR KIDS KNOW HOW TO SWIM?
NAOMI: The eldest, Alex, does know, Kai who is four, is almost there.
We don’t live in New York only, but we also have a house on the beach in Australia where we spend a lot of time. That’s why it’s so absolutely important to me that the kids know to swim.