Anamaria Vartolomei Talks ‘Being Maria,’ Fighting for Change Within the Entertainment Industry at Cannes

Anamaria Vartolomei Talks ‘Being Maria,’ Fighting for Change Within the Entertainment Industry at Cannes

Anamaria Vartolomei, the breakout star of Audrey Diwan’s Venice prizewinning “Happening,” is under the spotlight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival playing strong women in a pair of movies, “Being Maria” and “The Count Monte Cristo.” Both movies are supported by Chanel for which Vartolomei is an ambassador.

Vartolomei says since starring in Diwan’s drama “Happening,” which was set in the 1960s and centered around the then-illegal act of abortion, she has continued being lured to demanding roles with political and social themes.

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“I think movies are the expressions of my engagements as a woman, and as such I often star in films that are engaged because when you’re an actress you contribute to change and we must continue to wage this battle that other women have led before,” says Vartolomei, who was wearing a glamorous dark khaki and black silk jacquard muslin dress by Chanel.

She pointed out that since starring in “Happening,” she has often played “women who tried to escape an influence, whether it’s social, familial, environmental and political.” This includes her latest film, “Being Maria,” which tells the story of actor Maria Schneider, who rebelled against filmmakers who tried to sexualize her. As well as her character in “Monte Cristo” who is another fierce “woman who tries to emancipate herself from a man who exerts a psychological hold on her. She aspires to be free and puts everything in place to achieve it.”

In Jessica Palud’s “Being Maria,” Vartolomei embodies Schneider, who starred opposite Marlon Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Tango in Paris” at the age of 19 and never recovered from the shoot. The film depicts tracks the production of the 1972 Bertolucci movie, which featured an un-simulated rape scene that Schneider filmed when she was just 19. After the film was released, she began to struggle with depression and drug use.

Bartolomei revealed she and Palud worked together to find her level of comfort throughout the filming process and did copious amounts of research including screening several documentaries, including “The Panic in Needle Park,” as “Being Maria” details Schneider’s drug use, withdrawal, and eventual overdose.

The costumes designed by Chanel also helped her get into character. “Sometimes, in period films, it’s very hard to find the right balance so that the audience doesn’t get the impression that the actors are disguised,” Vartolomei argues. “But here I felt happy because I felt good, I felt free in my movements and that was essential for the incarnation of this character.”

As for progress, Bartolomei believes that the film industry has made great strides in regard to listening to sexual assault survivors. “I don’t have the impression that we are still there,” she says of the time period that Schneider was in. “What I find very strong and I think that we really witness that today in the news, is that we have another reception of the testimonies from victims. We give them much more value and much more respect, which was also something Maria did not have at the time. There is more empathy and more listening and understanding things.”

Looking forward, Vartolomei reveals she will star in a film by Romanian filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai, which is set to be released early next year.

Watch the conversation above.

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