Born in Rome on 19 August 2002, Francesco Gheghi is a promising young actor in the Italian movie scene, who in only a few years has already worked with some of the most famous Italian actors, and always in leading roles.
He’s just finished shooting the upcoming film “Piove”, and the film “Il filo invisibile” was just released on Netflix, where he stars as Leone, the teenage son of two fathers. In May, the TV drama “A muso duro” will air on Rai, telling the story of the first Paralympics held in Rome in 1960, in which Francesco plays the role of a paraplegic athlete. In real life he loves sport: he enjoys swimming, playing football, skiing, biking and rock- climbing.
The words of an old Jovanotti song come to mind while we talk: “Sono un ragazzo fortunato, perché mi hanno regalato un sogno…” (“I’m a lucky guy, because they’ve given me a dream…”). And this is precisely Francesco Gheghi, a young professional with a great deal of drive to grow, to learn from older, more experienced colleagues, a young adult who’s grateful for his dream having come true: “being in all the scenes”.
“I started acting in elementary school” he tells me during our interview. “My first role was of Saint Francis: not because I earned it, but because my name was Francesco. That’s when I discovered that I liked acting. I graduated high school last year, which was an accomplishment.
I had missed so many days of school because I was shooting on the set of two movies, ‘Il filo invisibile’ and ‘Piove’. But it was very important to my mom that I earn my diploma. I got lucky though, since due to Covid the exam was held without a written part. I had a rather winding path through school, as I first began at a linguistic high school, thinking that speaking many languages would be useful for my acting career. But I didn’t like it so I switched to a sport science high school, because sport is another passion of mine. I didn’t like that one either. So finally I enrolled in a human sciences high school and found I was interested in the subjects. I also had good grades”.
Anna Ferzetti stands out among Italian actresses for her delicacy and elegance. As the daughter of the great actor Gabriele Ferzetti, she began breathing in the scent of art right away, a gift that she has cultivated with commitment and devotion.
Step by step on her tippy toes, Anna has created a significant space for herself in the world of entertainment. With a filmography including few, carefully selected projects, in recent years the actress has set herself apart as a personality worthy of interest within the national movie and TV scene. Most notably, she has won over critics and audiences thanks to her bright roles in productions for the younger public and in popular comedies, including the Netflix series “Curon”, where we rediscovered her in 2020. Recently she has been part of the cast of the successful RAI 2 series “Volevo fare la Rockstar”, but also of “Le Fate ignoranti” (“The Ignorant Angels”) based on the iconic Ozpetek movie.
Once upon a time, there was Italian cinema, that mix of art, commitment, technology, business: a melting pot of writers, intellectuals, enlightened financiers, directors who risked, workers of great ingenuity, who nourished with its works the universal imagination for almost a whole century: the twentieth century.
It is to Italian cinema that we owe the codification of the classic film form with Cabiria in 1914; it’s with Neorealism that the way of telling the reality that Gilles Deleuze called “cinematographic modernity” is born and continues inspiring directors from all over the world; in Italy that we can trace the only example of comedy – “all’ italiana” (Italian Style), precisely – where in the end we cry and die; it’s only in Italian films that such organic research is developed to think about the political character of reality and the images that represent it. It’s here, ultimately, that the reflection on the specific characteristics of a filmic and a national thought is found on their intertwining and their reciprocal influences, along that rippling ridge that defines a cultural system both in its relations with the outside and in its internal components, to the most coherent and continuous extent. And now? Threatened by global streaming platforms, little or nothing helped by the political system, it’s distributed little abroad except in the case of rare, big names that ensure a safe economic return – Nanni Moretti, Paolo Sorrentino, Matteo Garrone, Giuseppe Tornatore, Mario Martone, Paolo Virzì and very few others – which make us fear for its incisive capacity on contemporaneity as instead had happened for the authors’ generation of the last century (a Millennium has also passed).
The point is that complaining does not make sense, or even basking in nostalgia for smoky rooms where the light’s beam made fantastic or hyperreal stories live on the screen, according to the usual narration of “it was better before” while the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso has also aged. Punctually, every five
years or so, some critics recover the idea that Italian cinema is experiencing a nouvelle vague: there is talk of a particular Italian and international visibility of the new authors’ generations, of shares’ recovery of receipts of Italian cinema compared to the foreign one, of sudden notoriety of the local stars, etc. The last of these flare-ups of enthusiasm occurred in 2013 with the success of Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty and the appearance of new films by Ozpetek, Bellocchio, and Muccino. Unfortunately, just as punctually, in a season Italian cinema returns to be little visible and unattractive, with an increasingly wide gap between small half-clandestine authorial productions, on the one hand, large distribution circuits on the other.
However it’s interesting, talking to very young actors with a solid professional preparation such as Jozef Gjura, who arrived in Piedmont at the age of six – now he’s 26 and is one of the protagonists of the trilogy “On the most beautiful”, Even more beautiful and More and more beautiful ,the first directed by Alice Filippi, the second and third directed by Claudio Norza –«having grown up with the Italian cinema of the three decades Fifty-Seventy years is a duty, as well as a privilege, to be not actors, but artists who must enter their truth in the part that is assigned to them.
If I hadn’t looked for Antonio’s first films, fallen in love with Gian Maria Volonté, loved Mario Monicelli and many other directors then considered pure entertainment, I probably wouldn’t have taken this path». The myth of Italian cinema resists as a great training ground for unforgettable actors and visionary authors, actors, and directors, now all deceased, while the contribution of values – aesthetic, ethical, narrative – of contemporary Italian cinema is struggling to become significant, though it can also count on new names both for the screenplays and for the direction: I think of the twins Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, Alice Rohrwacher, Giorgio Diritti, Alessandro Aronadio, Michelangelo Frammartino, Valeria Golino, Sergio Rubini, or Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, actors who have passed on the other side of the camera. It’s they who, in recent years, are somehow redesigning the cartography of national but not local cinematography, able
to support even plots that are not only and simple references to local issues but have a breath and an international creative quality.
The problem is that, as noted by the writer and essayist Gianfranco Marrone on Doppiozero, profoundly changing cinema as the dominant production machine of the media imagination, the theories that try to explain reasons and mechanisms, qualitative paths, and operating systems have also changed. Once there were the big and the small screen whose dimensions distinguished two different media – cinema and television – with different languages, audiences, and contents. Today, everything is intertwined, with extraordinary design and ideational refinements, and every new platform that lends itself to conveying moving images, videos, and audiovisuals must reinvent itself almost from scratch a poetic and an aesthetic, not to mention the forms of narration and figuration. The condition is such that the advent of digital has upset the cards, so that the computer’s funnel constantly redistributes not only what was once the system of fine arts, but also media themselves, led to hybridize euphorically with each other.
But then, does this decadence last or not?
But it isn’t only this, even we no longer have the brave and billionaire producers who bet on “dangerous” directors like Pasolini or Ferreri, but also the matrix that characterizes the history of Italian cinema that has seen four production, linguistic, and consumer models at work: realism, apology, the consumer product, and the “artistic” product. In the perimeter defined by the four poles, two types of movements are played: a vital overlap and contamination between the four models of cinema; an equally vital reworking of models taken from the outside. First, it’s necessary to recall the basic coordinates of the current Italian film system. Starting from the Seventies, the consumption of cinema enters crisis in favor of the television medium; from this crisis, the cinema comes out at the end of the Eighties with a completely renewed scenario: the small local cinemas have now been replaced by multiplexes; the system of first, second and third visions has been replaced by a system in which the success of a film is played out all in the first days of programming.
This opens a gap between produced Italian films and successful Italian films (or simply seen and visible in normal circuits). The production system confirms its fragmented nature: for films production, the help from the State or from the two television giants, Rai and Mediaset, becomes indispensable.
However, it would be wrong to argue that the new scenario implies a break with tradition or a “refoundation” of Italian cinema. On the contrary: precisely this condition of constant uncertainty and vulnerability, stimulates Italian cinema to seek its own identity and specific visibility; hence a firm intention to recover and manage the symbolic resources of one’s past, resources precisely represented by that matrix of characters outlined in the two previous paragraphs.
The result is a cinema that is both modern and ‘ancient’, aware of its late modernity and rooted in its past. The continuous rebirths of Italian cinema confirm that cinema represents one of the main institutions for the construction and reconstruction of our identity.
Perhaps through new languages, stratification of readings, ways of overlapping that reject genres: after all, how much more bitter is there in some films of Italian comedy and even in cinepanettoni and how much, instead, of a fairytale in denunciation films such as “Favolacce dei gemelli D’Innocenzo’’ or “Lazzaro felice” by Rohrwacher?
A special portfolio from the 78th annual Venice International Film Festival was captured by Riccardo Ghilardi. A selection of the most recognized and popular actors, actresses, film directors, and new up&coming talents during the days of the last Venice Film Festival. Riccardo Ghilardi is a photographer specialized in celebrities’ portraits and with a strong passion for reportage and social environment projects. His works have been featured in many exhibitions at MAXXI – Museo delle Arti del XXI secolo and Cinecittà.
His last exhibition “Prove di libertà”, about the lockdown of Italian cinema was held at the last Venice Film Festival.
Cover:Milena Smit – Film Madre Paralesas of Pedro Almodovar
Tahar Rahim is a French actor of Algerian origin. He is living a golden moment in his artistic career. He was recently nominated by the international press for a Golden Globe for his role in “The Mauritian”, a true story taken from the book “Guantanámo Diary”. He played in the movie with Jodie Foster. So he told us the emotion of being on set with an Oscar & Golden Globe winner. The film will be soon released also in Italy. On Netflix, he is at the top with “The Serpent”, a miniseries that talks about the daring adventures of Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer who operated in the ’70s in the golden triangle of drugs and crossroads of hippies.
His transformation to put himself in the shoes of the character is amazing and outstanding.
How do you feel about being nominated for the Golden Globe as the best actor for “The Mauritian”, a movie with Jodie Foster?
Well, I am over the moon, it is incredible. If you are an actor of my generation and you grew up with her movies, it is almost a dream. I have vivid memories from when I went to the cinema to watch “Contact” or “The silence of the lambs”. She is a legend. I don’t deny that I was almost scared the first time I was in front of her. However, Jodie can make you feel so at ease and relaxed that you almost forget who she is.
“The Mauritian” has not come out in Italy yet. Why do you suggest watching this movie?
It is a very important story that needs to be told because it talks about freedom, harsh laws, and humanity. It is the story of a man imprisoned in Guantanámo Bay for 14 long years without even a charge against him. Mohamedou Ould Slah had been through a living hell in jail. When he got out of prison, he wanted to forgive everyone: that means achieving a level of forgiveness that goes beyond any imagination, a real demonstration of a pure and beautiful soul.
How did you learn English? It is impeccable and without a French accent.
The truth? I had to work very hard. I have always loved English since I was a child, but when they offered me the role of Ali Soufan in “The Looming Tower”, I knew I had to interpret an American citizen, so I knew I should make no mistakes, even small ones that would not convince the producers or the public.
So, I practiced with a coach for four hours a day for three months. When I started shooting in New York, I requested a coach on set to be always 100% sure. Even now I have two lessons per week.
Oliver Stone dedicated a post on Instagram to you and he pointed the finger at the Academy Awards for mentioning not even a category of your movie for the Oscars, meaning that probably it would not have been good publicity for the USA.
Honestly, when I was told it, I could not believe that Mr. Stone had done a post about me and the movie. Of course, we can’t say that American cinema is not able to criticize its society, this is Oliver Stone’s vision. I am just finding out how things go in the USA.
Did you already know the story of “The Serpent” before playing the lead role of the Netflix miniseries? It was not very well-known in Italy, probably because it is French.
I knew it but not because it is French, none of my friends remembered it. But since I have two elder brothers, I found the book about the story of Charles Sobhraj in the bedroom and I was fascinated by the synopsis. I was 16 years old and I already wanted to be an actor. But at that time, I could not understand the real horror behind that man, yet I imagined playing that role. When I discovered that Benicio Del Toro was about to start the film shooting in 2001, I was disappointed, but then they did not do it anymore. Exactly 20 years later, I got an email from my agent saying that I would play the role of a serial killer and then I realized it was him. Life is incredible. It’s almost as if fate gave me this role.
Do you think when cinemas reopen in France, people will buy tickets like before or will stay true to the streaming?
There will be a good season since we are getting closer to summer and probably people want to stay outside, but if I can say it, we humans tend to forget things. When this is over, we will just want to go back to normal life, like going to the cinema.
If you are charmed by the fantasy genre, where a long series of events intertwines with the adventures of protagonists with a complex personality in unreal places, you cannot miss “Shadow and Bone“, a TV series adapted from the first novel of the fantasy duology Six of Crows, set in the world of Grisha, written by the American authoress Leigh Bardugo. The novel is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, Alina Starkov, a teen orphan who grew up in Ravka, a fantasy world inspired by Tsarist Russia in the 1800s, with breathtaking costumes and special effects.
On the occasion of its release on Netflix, Mondadori republished the novel with a new graphic and the title “Shadow and Bone” on 3rd November 2020.
Freddy Carter, a film director, is also an extraordinary actor who plays the role of Kaz Brekker, a mysterious criminal, in Shadow and Bone. As you can perceive from his work as a director, with his short film “No. 89“, even in the guise of an actor, he can combine a subtle and sharp irony with tragic situations, with an unexpected rhythm that makes you feel dizzy. He stages stories and relationships among characters in the most innovative way possible.
Mr. Brekker is a cold and detached individual with a mysterious charm who hides a past that turns out to be eye-opening and will reveal his temperament. His eyes unveil an unsolved pain mixed with a thirst for revenge. He is a clever criminal prodigy who does not trust even his closest friends. The eight episodes reserve many surprises about the characters and their evolution.
Freddy was born in 1993, he spent his formative years at the Oxford School of Drama. His first theater experiences were followed by the first performance on the big screen in the movie Wonder Woman, where he played the role of a soldier. However, he got the fame he deserved when he played the character of Peter, called Pin, in Free Rein.
We know you wrote and produced the short film “No. 89” with Caroline Ford and your brother Tom Austen. Would you talk about it?
“I think that “No. 89” is one of the works that I am most proud of. Seeing a project developing from the initial idea, through the production, to its conclusion has been very fulfilling. It has been a pleasure working with Caroline and Tom: they are both talented actors who made my job much easier. I have been affected by the “movie direction virus” because now I am working on my second short film “Broken Gargoyles” which will be shot in the next few weeks.”
In which series have you felt most at ease? Besides interpreting the cold Mr. Brekker, we have also seen you play the role of Pin Hawthorne in Free Rein.
“I have been so lucky to work on a wide range of TV programs with different tones, themes, and targets. I enjoyed working on Free Rein. It is rare to play the same character for three years – eventually, I felt like I knew who Pin really was. But I admit that Kaz Brekker has been my favorite role so far. He is so complex and there is always something more under the surface: it is a real challenge.”
By the way, do you like riding a horse? Which are your hobbies off the set?
“I love riding a horse, I miss it so much and hope to go back to it soon. Besides acting, my greatest passion is photography. I started taking pictures of my colleagues on the set of Free Rein. It was born as a distraction to kill time and then I fell in love with it. It is a way to remember all the emotional adventures that I am lucky to experience.”
Shadow and Bone is a hymn to friendship and the importance of an alley to achieve goals. Which role does the presence of a partner play in your life? Do you want to tell us about a specific experience?
“This is so true.The topic of the family is very important in the books and it is also evident in the TV show. I think I had a similar experience with the cast of “Shadow and Bone” in Budapest. We all arrived in that new city alone, nobody knew each other, but we soon got closer and created a small family.”
Do you have any projects? Either as a director or as an actor.
“I am very excited to start filming a new miniseries called “Masters of the Air” for Apple TV. I will work with the same team of “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”, this is a dream coming true for me because I loved that series. As a director, we are getting ready to shoot “Broken Gargoyles” in London within a few weeks!”
What does it mean today to be a film director? Does he/she have a responsibility in the choice of the topics?
“I think it is fundamental to put some elements of hope in the stories we tell. The pandemic and the various lockdowns have shown how necessary entertainment and the arts are for people’s well-being. So, as long as artists do not lose hope, everything will be fine.”
British charm and savoir-faire, highly talented not only in front of the camera but also on the cricket pitch, where he has been spending most of his free time for over 10 years. He has played so many different roles that we do not know exactly which character suits him most. And probably, he has not decided yet, too. When talking about his talent, he prefers not to focus too much on himself. Is this elegant modesty that makes him so special?
Our country has already appreciated his role of Alfred Lyttelton in the Netflix series “The English game”, set in the time when football was at its beginnings. Between power games and low blows, the first professional football players start succeeding, but not without controversy, arose more by class interests than moral issues. We suggest not missing out on the chance to see him in the shoes of a wealthy businessman who places his self-interests above an apparent strong friendship and a morality that is useful for the conservation of power and social status. However, the real news is his role of Sherlock Holmes in the new Netflix series “The Irregulars”, where you will discover an irreverent and brilliant version, described by Tom Bidwell, very different from what you have watched so far about the most famous detective in the world.
A dystopic version of London, where certainties and values are replaced by horrible crimes and supernatural events, hits a nerve of a society like ours, completely distorted by the pandemic, which has affected every field and has forced us to live a new reality.
Troubled teenagers are protagonists and victims at the same time, they are manipulated to solve the crimes for Dr. Watson and his mysterious business partner. You have to wait for some episodes to find out what has happened to Sherlock Holmes in the last few years. And this is where the greatness of this character is hidden. He reveals what we have never known about him: his before and after.
We discover the young, brilliant and ambitious Sherlock, led by the energic impulse of youth and high self-esteem that will be his fortune but also his greatest weakness. What about his maturity? What about the man, emptied by his ego and consumed by guilt, who saw his strengths falling apart? You will find out. And you will also discover all the aspects of a new Sherlock that Henry Lloyd-Hughes will convey through his extraordinary performance.
An unexpected psychological perspective is revealed in small doses. Traces of personal elements linked to his character make an act immortal or a romantic gesture extreme through suspense.
We asked him how difficult it is to show two different sides of such a complex personality: the methodical, witty, and self-confident side and the other one, destroyed by pain and deprived of any motivations. His answer left out his performance, he praised, instead, the great merits of the costume designer and the makeup artist. He is a real gentleman. “We really wanted to push both versions as far as possible and tell the story of someone absent for 15 years. Through the body and the look, with the Oscar-winner Lucy Sibbick and Edward K. Gibbon’s costumes, it has been an emotional experiment to see how far we could push ourselves, making sure that the character would seem the original one”.
I think his charm lies in the depth with which he can connect with his characters. He confirmed that the aspect of Sherlock that most attracted him was “His vulnerability and his perforated and broken ego.”
The exchange between Henry and his characters is intimate and deep. His great introspective ability can give us a unique version of the detective; from what he tells us, every character goes into his universe in a special way. “It always depends on where the character meets you in your life. You meet a certain character at a certain age and you bring everything you have experienced with that role in your life. At the moment, I’m thinking with affection about my time spent with the character of Sherlock, and something very personal arises. But I’m sure that when I play another character, I will love him in the same way or even more.”
Do you want to tell us about some funny moments during the shooting?
“Yes! We burnt some of the original costumes to create the oldest Sherlock’s clothes. During the shooting, the burnt wool stunk so much that all the other actors started complaining. Moreover, every time I put my hands in the pocket, clouds of soot rose, and I left prints of dirty hands everywhere!”
In the “English Game,” you play the role of one of the best football players of that time. But we know that you have a great passion for cricket and a brand with a two-generation story inspired by this sport: N.E. Blake & Co.
“Sure. It is a great honor for me to continue the family tradition. “Paddy” Padwick was my great-grandfather and an extremely gifted athlete. He turned his passion into a business with “N.E. Blake & Co.” I relaunched it, trying to bring back a classic sporty look focused mainly on cricket. Sometimes it is hard to run a business as well as acting, but honestly, I’m so keen on the classic sporty style that I can’t help it.”
How important were sports in your life?
“Very much. I have been playing in a cricket club for 10 years, the Bloody Lads Cricket Club. Because of Corona Virus, unfortunately, the season was shortened last year. We look forward to getting black to play regularly.”
Considering that we don’t want to miss them, what are your future plans on the big screen?
“We are all waiting to know the future of The Irregulars, so this might be my next adventure!”
Have you ever wanted to play a particular role? Someone who reflects your personality or someone so different from you that you feel attracted by him?
“I would like to do a musical or something very eccentric like the movies of Wes Anderson. I have loved Grand Budapest Hotel so much that I feel perfectly fit in his surreal world, followed by James Bond, of course.
Ludovico Tersigni is among the most talented actors who belong to a new Italian generation that is having great success, especially thanks to Netflix. His success is due to his participation in two of the most loved and followed series, not only by teenagers, such as Skam Italia and Summertime. Very shy and not inclined to social media, we met him in Rome, where, exclusively for MANINTOWN, he dressed as a dandy, the protagonist of a Roman night in the 30’s in this special service you will discover here.
How was your passion for cinema born?
The passion for theatre and music (I love playing the guitar) was born first while the one for cinema came later. I started when I was in primary school with my first performances and then I kept on cultivating this passion at an amateur level in middle and high school.
When did you tell yourself “I want to be an actor”?
I haven’t said it yet! It was a very smooth thing and I tried to seize all the opportunities. I made my first movie, Arance e Martello (Oranges and Hammer), with Diego Bianchi and that audition was my chance. I was selected to play a role and then the movies went to Venice, where I met Vittorio Pistoia, who asked me if I wanted to be part of his agency to give it a try, and I accepted, even if I still had to graduate.
Nobody has seen my degree since but, on the other hand, I did many things, many auditions and I kept on playing very formative roles in the following years. It has been a difficult journey, for example the movie called “Slam. Tutto per una ragazza” with Andrea Modaioli. I needed to train because the protagonist was a skater and I had to reach a good level in a very short time. It’s a risky sport that can cause many injuries. Therefore, performing with the idea that I shouldn’t hurt myself has been a great challenge.
You love challenges…
Not only in the cinema, but also in sports, such as climbing, where risk is more controlled; you know your level when you approach a wall and you know you are safe.
According to you, why did Skam Italia have an incredible success?
Skam Italia is the loyal portrait of today’s reality. The success is due to this loyalty. The producers, directors and actors don’t want to provide a model, but an idea of what high school is for us today. In addition, they want to underline the complex issues that everyone has to face in the age of the constitution of our personality, memories that will stay with us forever. In my opinion, this is the strongest point of Skam: its non-belligerence towards young people. It is a declaration of alliance, “we are by your side”. It is also a question: “we believe that these things exist, have they ever happened to you?”. The best thing is that they answer, empathize, and talk about them. Moreover, the series has been able to involve different generations.
In the series, your character evolves and grows. How much of you is there in Giovanni, your character?
In Giovanni there is perhaps a part of me that I have left aside. Nobody would like to grow up. As Caparezza says: “I have a project in my mind, to be a teenager forever”. Giovanni is like the sum of the experiences that I had in high school and that remained unexpressed.
Did you watch the other version of Skam?
Yes, but after season 1. I watched the first episode before starting to shoot and something of Skam France and it was interesting to see different interpretations and themes in each country. I think that Skam is one of the best projects I have ever participated in.
Did Summertime arrive after Skam? How did you experience it?
It’s definitely an entertaining series and its goal is to be more welcoming, aiming at a wider audience. On a social level, Skam is a mine because it opens up spaces. On the other hand, Summertime welcomes and they cannot be compared.
According to you, why are we experiencing a wave of teen-genre TV series?
I think that it’s due to the age of the audience that today it is very young. For example, when I was in middle school, I used to go to the cinema with my friends at the weekend. It was a habit and we used to fight even over the choice of the movie. It’s a completely different method of use. I am sorry to see that young people are very “addicted” to screens; if there were more balance, they probably would choose to do other activities too.
Today the youngs are also very linked to social media. You are a slightly different example…
Time management is very delicate. You risk spending one or two hours in front of your mobile and then you haven’t done anything. You saw some of your friends’ photos and what they did in their IG stories, you “joined” their lives, but in a virtual way. Therefore, my question is: are we still able to stay together in real time, to go out, organize, leave and do things in order to meet? Or is talking on the phone enough to have that relationship? This is why I am trying to invest my time also in other things that are not only virtual.
What passions do you cultivate in your free time?
In the last few years, I had a manual crisis; I realized I wasn’t able to do many things by hand and I started a journey that touched many fields, from restoration (I attended a luthier academy) to creating an acoustic guitar. I realized how manual work helps to free the mind because concentration makes you forget what you are thinking about and, therefore, thoughts clear up. Doing something by hand, focusing on something and then seeing the work finished is not just a great satisfaction, but it’s also a sort of therapy. Now, I am attending a clay sculpture course and I have recently finished my first Venus and I am also building a very difficult horse bust. It takes me a lot of time, but my teacher is happy.
What projects do you have for this summer 2020?
We are working on the second season of Summertime and we are leaving all together for Ravenna soon. In the new series, there will be interesting developments and growth in the characters, who met last year… stay tuned!
Manintown x Gucci
Photography: Manuel Scrima @manuelscrima
Video: Marlon Rueberg @marlonrueberg
Camera operator: Jacopo Lupinella @jacopolupinellaph
Talent: Ludovico Tersigni @ludovicotersigni
Art Direction & Styling: Giorgia Cantarini @giorgiacantarini
Styling Assistant: Giorgia Musci @mushiland
Grooming: Francesca Bova @francesca_bova_
Location: Hotel Valadier – Roma @hotel.valadier
Production: Manintown @manintownofficial
Theme SHIFT#4 BY XU & TIM ROWE from BLUESHIFT
Special thanks: Sonia Rondini e Lapalumbo comunicazione
Born in 1961, Simon Foxton is considered one of the most influential, visionary stylists and creative minds on the international scene. After graduating in 1983 from Central Saint Martins in fashion design and launching his brand Bazooka, Foxton began working for i-D magazine, where he later began a long-term collaboration with Nick Knight that eventually led Simon to become the magazine’s art director. Foxton has succeeded in mixing together and bridging sportswear, tailoring, streetwear and fetish styles in an experimental way. His aesthetic sense helped define the new image of modern menswear. On the occasion of the book release in collaboration with Stone Island, we interviewed Simon about his career path and his thoughts the past and future of fashion.
Tell us about your time studying and when you discovered your passion for photography and fashion.
I was at Central Saint Martins School of Art between 1979 and 1983 and I had a fantastic time there. That was such a wonderful time to be young, attending art school, and especially living in London! I don’t think I was a particularly hard-working student, but I made a lot of great friends there, many of whom are still close to me even today. There was a lot of dressing up and going out to clubs and parties. It was pretty amazing. I had always enjoyed consuming magazines and loved imagery but never considered actually creating any of my own. It wasn’t until after I left college and started designing in the real world that I realised how difficult and also time-consuming it was to design. Caryn Franklin, a friend of mine back then who was Fashion Director at i-D at the time, asked me if I’d be interested in doing some styling for the magazine. I gave it a go and quickly realised that it felt right for me. I liked its immediacy. You had an idea, found the clothes, shot them, and there was the final result. No more ordering fabrics, dealing with outworkers, delivering to shops etc. That was such a drag. I’ve always favoured the path of least resistance.
You are considered a leading image-maker of men’s fashion. What changes do you see in the industry during these last years?
I’m not sure if I ever really created “fashion looks.” I have been an image-maker for quite a while now, but that’s just because I’ve been around a long time and haven’t died yet. I’m often asked this question and I’m never too certain how to answer it. I guess the most fundamental change is the size and scope of the fashion industry. Now, there is so much of it, and such enormous wealth invested in it that it has become a much more high-risk environment to work in. When I was starting out things were much more relaxed. When shooting for magazines, credits were more of a suggestion than a necessity. We were very much left alone to create what we wanted, with no art directors or commercial departments interfering. It’s only more recently that I’ve realised how fortunate we were to grow up shooting in that sort of culture. Of course, not everything was great, and some of the work was self-indulgent, but the great thing was that we could experiment, and also fail. Failure is a crucial part of the creative process. Sadly, that is not allowed now in the high-budget, tense, corporate world that fashion has become.
You started with i-D magazine in 1984. Tell us some crazy stories about your work at that time and how this experience shaped your professional and private life.
I don’t think I have any crazy stories. I’m not a particularly crazy or dramatic person, I think the most obvious impact on both my personal and professional life comes from the people I have met through work. From meeting and working with Nick Knight at the very start, to asking Edward Enninful to model for me and then having him become my assistant. Likewise, street-casting Steve McQueen for an i-D shoot and us becoming very close friends. Or meeting the photographer Jason Evans who was interning with Nick Knight; we began working together back in 1990 and have done so ever since. Also, all the other wonderful assistants I’ve had over the years, like Jonathan Kaye (now at The Gentlewoman) or Elgar Johnson (at GQ Style), or Nick Griffiths with whom I have an ongoing creative consultancy, &SON. Or working with the wonderful Penny Martin at SHOWstudio, who is now the editor of The Gentlewoman. They are all still very dear friends and extremely important people in my life.
Can you please choose 5 photos from your Instagram feed that are meaningful or important for you and explain why?
Very memorable shoot . We shot this at night in the streets around some old warehouses next to Tower Bridge .Back then it was deserted and derelict . These days it has been made into flats and work spaces that cost millions .The fire in front of the boys is actually me walking past with a big metal rake that we wrapped in paper and set alight.
This was from a story that Jason and I shot called ’Strictly’ . We shot it all around the streets near my house in Ealing , very suburban .Edward was assisting me at the time and he helped a lot with the casting .It was a fun shoot to do and was well received .
I’ve always loved this shot I did with Ben of the stunning model Dominique Hollington .Very simple and graphic .
This is a composite from a movie that Nick and I made for Walter van Beirendock’s retrospective exhibition in Antwerp .I had access to Walter’s total archive and he allowed me to mix up his collections to create wild looks . It was really great fun .
This was a kind of backstage shot that I took on the set of a shoot that Nick Knight and I did called Frillaz !I dressed these tough looking guys in some incredibly frilly frocks that I found online from an adult baby fetish site .I had pre-warned them before the shoot of what I intended to do but still felt a bit nervous about how they would reactbut they were all great about it . The whole shoot was a joy
You worked with truly creative mind like Nick Knight. Who are the photographers/creative people more inspiring for you?
Nick Knight inspiring. He is constantly creative and a very exciting person to work with; you always feel you’re in safe hands working with Nick. In a different way, Jason Evans is an extremely inspiring photographer because he questions things and makes you question yourself. Not in an undermining way, but more as a method of creating something totally new. I’ve also always admired the work of Jean-Paul Goude. I love his creations.
How was working at the exhibition When You’re a Boy?
Well, that was Penny Martin’s idea. She curated it and did all the hard work of putting the show together. It was very exciting to have an exhibition dedicated solely to my work at The Photographer’s Gallery. I didn’t enjoy being the centre of attention on the opening night etc. I’m pretty useless at all that stuff and prefer to stay more in the background. But once the show was up and running, I did enjoy viewing it dispassionately, almost as if I was looking at someone else’s work.
How has your work changed during this global pandemic?
I continue to work with Stone Island, but since I am considered to be in a “high risk” category I have been fairly strictly self-isolating so have been doing my consulting via Zoom, which has been a godsend. I gave up shooting editorials and my teaching work last year.
What kind of relationship do you have with social networks?
I’m on Facebook quite a lot just seeing what friends are doing or watching mindless videos. It seems that Facebook is now just used by old codgers like me; I don’t think anyone young uses it anymore. Instagram is fun, but again pretty mindless. I enjoy posting pictures that I take when I see something noteworthy or beautiful, otherwise I don’t bother. All those pictures of food, or children, give me a break! I used Tumblr for years and absolutely loved it but then they spoiled it with their puritanical anti-porn stance that edited out anything even vaguely salacious. I closed down my account and haven’t used it since. I transferred a few images to my Instagram account @foxtonscrapbooks, but it’s not the same, to be honest. Twitter, I use for news that’s it. I don’t Tweet- never got to grips with it, really. Any of the others I just assume are for kids and don’t bother with them.
What was the process of working on the Stone Island book? And what was the biggest challenge in creating the book?
Myself and my business partner Nick Griffiths have worked with Stone Island for the last 12 or 13 years. We art direct, cast and shoot all the campaigns and photo-based imagery. Nick makes a lot of the moving image pieces for their online platforms. We also consult with the design team there to give input on the collections, and we are involved in many other facets of the brand. Sabina Rivetti from Stone Island approached me a couple of years ago with the idea of doing a book. I think she already had the editor Eugene Rabkin in place at that time, as well as Rizzoli as the publisher. My role as Art Director was really to steer the ship and make sure that it remained true to Stone Island’s “language,” i.e. it must be modern, factual and almost industrial in feel. Nothing too flashy or over designed. I chose Rory McCartney as designer for the book as we had worked with him on the last one, Stone Island, Archivio and therefore he understood the aesthetic well. We spent a long time trawling through masses of imagery looking for photos that were hopefully interesting and informative but that also hadn’t already been used in other publications. For this, we had the assistance from a wonderful image researcher, Sarah Cleaver, who did an amazing job. I think the main challenge was retaining the clean, dispassionate visual language of the brand but still producing a book that was interesting to see. Hopefully we succeeded.
What are some of your future plans…do you still enjoy working in fashion?
At the moment with the way the world is, I haven’t made any major plans. I take each day as it comes. I still very much enjoy working with Stone Island, they are a fantastic company to work for. But to be honest, I’ve rather fallen out of love with fashion and magazines. I have stopped shooting fashion editorials as I find that the parameters magazines set and the adherence to credits that they impose are too stifling. Perhaps I am just getting too old for all of that. We’ll see what happens!
Released a few weeks ago whilst quickly entering the top ten most viewed programmes on Netflix, Emily in Paris got people talking immediately, attracting lots of criticism for the representation of the Ville Lumière and its inhabitants, judged excessively stereotypical (clichés, indeed, are not lacking, although the production has made it clear how unavoidable they are given the plot, which tells the story of an American girl who came to Paris for the first time) and just as many mentions for the colourful outfits. The clothes are the work of costume designer Patricia Field, who was already the creator of Ugly Betty‘s wardrobes and, above all, Sex and the City’s.
A less investigated aspect, on the other hand, is that of the male characters, since they are the ones who steal the scene. Of course, the Emily Cooper of the title, aka Lily Collins, her deputy Sylvie (Philippine Leroy- Beaulieu) and all the other women in the casting. And yet some of the men deserve a more in-depth look at start with Gabriel, a chef as charming as he is skilful at preparing tartare de veau, divided, sentimentally speaking, between the lead role (and neighbour) Emily and her friend, as well as her girlfriend, Camille. The 32-year-old Lucas Bravo, a model, was chosen to interpret it, who boasts of participations in soaps such as Sous le soleil and Plus belle la vie, which are quite popular in France. In this case, the fashion component is kept to a minimum (tight t-shirts, pastel sweatshirts, dark coats, denim jackets, evergreen combination of leather and t-shirts).
Credits Photo 2: Joséphine Leddet x Schon Magazine
It’s impossible not to mention Julien, Emily’s colleague at the Paris marketing agency Savoir, who is a permanent member of the blasé and prone to judge sarcastically what surrounds him. He is the most fashionable, fully dressed at work as on other occasions. His is a style with strong colours, sophisticated: he prefers suits brushed on, in classic colours (brightened up, however, by shirts, jackets in vitaminic colours) or, on the contrary, rather whimsical, covered by large graphics and patterns, sometimes accessorised with brochettes pinned to lapels and necklaces jewellery. Alternatively, polo shirts with bright nuances (like the blue polo shirt by Paul Smith of the latter episode), bomber, satin varsity jacket. Julien is impersonated by Samuel Arnold, a former professional dancer, a Parisian who moved to Paris some time ago to London, where in 2018 he starred at the National Theatre in the play Antony and Cleopatra.
Another prominent male figure is that of William Abadie, a 47-year-old French actor who trained at the Actors’ Theatre. A New York studio, whose filmography includes serials such as Gossip Girl, Gotham and Homeland. In addition, he is an experienced athlete whose specialties range from marathon to triathlon and is regularly involved in sports. His alter ego on the screen is Antoine Lambert, founder of the haute parfumerie brand. Maison Lavaux – one of Savoir’s biggest clients – as well as lover of Emily Sylvie Grateau’s boss. Another role played by Abadie is of a gregarious and unleavened man, tightly knit in tailored suits with a cut impeccable, completed with tie and a rigorous pochette.
Charles Martins, on the other hand, is Mathieu Cadault, the archetype of the successful businessman. A Latin lover in the company of celebrities and movie stars, manager of the high fashion brand Pierre Cadault, a fictional Maison presented in the series as an emblem of Parisian chic (one of the best scenes is, in fact, the one in which the designer of the same name moves around noting the heart-shaped charms and Tour Eiffel, which the sudden role keeps in view on the bag). Given the profession, it is obviously very elegant: in the course of the episodes she shows three pieces of tweed dresses, geometrically patterned scarves, sartorial overcoats, cache-col laid with studied nonchalance along the lapels and so on.
Despite the small amount of time of the respective characters, we can finally mention Roe Hartrampf a.k.a. Doug, Emily’s boyfriend (who actually ceases to be so at the beginning of the series), at the American boy all work and cheer for the Chicago Cubs, and Eion Bailey, interpreter of Randy Zimmer.
The Swiss watchmaking and jewellery brand Chopard is Official Partner of the renowned Cannes Film Festival. It has rewarded for 72 editions the feature films, which made the history of the big screen. Among these, we suggest you a selection created by experts of the seventh art, where you can find six winners of the Golden Palm to watch (or to re-watch) in this period.
La dolce vita by Federico Fellini (1960). A happily decadent film about a hedonist hero’s raids, interpreted by Marcello Mastroianni, through the streets of our homegrown Capital. The scene when Anita Ekberg in a beautiful black mermaid silhouette bathes in the Trevi Fountain, has become iconic for the history of our cinema. Appreciated by the critics and condemned by the Vatican, this movie is the consecration of the Golden Age of Italian cinema.
Les parapluies de Cherbourg by Jacques Demy (1964). This movie, which is entirely sung on the notes by composer Michel Legrand, won the 17th Cannes Film Festival. Behind its pastel colours, this film hides a deep sense of melancholy. A real revelation was the actress Catherine Deneuve and her interpretation of the innocent beauty.
All that jazz by Bob Fosse (1980). This musical comedy is a love declaration towards Broadway. A whirlwind of dance and music which enhances life’s theatricality.
The piano by Jane Campion (1993). It is the first and only film directed by a woman which has ever won the Golden Palm. Nature and human instinct are in the spotlight in this cinematographic history, shot in the breath-taking landscapes of New Zealand.
Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino (1994). One of the funniest movies presented throughout the several Festival’s editions. The victory for this film was the President of jury Clint Eastwood’s betting on the future of the young and talented director, who at that time shot his second movie.
Shoplifters by Kore’eda Hirokazu (2018). The upsetting story of a dysfunctional Japanese family, which manages to stay close thanks to the propensity for little thefts.