Breakfast - online magazine interview
Svetlana Cemin
“How does your day start and how are you getting informed?”

During the early morning hours I do meditation, and then I walk to the park with my dog, Andy. During the whole day, I get most of my information on the internet.

“You left Belgrade a long time ago at the beginning of your modeling career. What is your experience in this world and who did you have the opportunity to cooperate with?”

In the mid-80s I first went to Milan and then to Paris. The moment I met Yves Saint Laurent — who instantly made me his muse — my modeling career flourished. That was almost a year after having left Belgrade. At that time, he had a very big impact on the whole fashion scene in Paris and he made everything in my life change overnight. My photos began to appear in fashion magazines made by Jeanloup Sieff, so I entered the team of the most engaged models in a very short period of time. I immediately started working in New York for all the most important fashion houses: Dior, Lanvin, Chanel, Oscar de la Rente, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg. I was engaged in the new generation of young creators in all the major fashion metropolises. I still like to remember my first performances at Dolce and Gabann, Comme des Garcons, J.P. Gauthier, Yogi Yammamoto, Lolita Lempica .... My fashion agency in Paris was Marilyn Gauthier, who at that time also represented Jerry Hall, Carla Bruni, L’wren Scott ... In short, all my fashion experiences were great: from the early Belgrade days when I became a member of a modeling association to the numerous world journeys in which I spent most of my time on a plane or in hotels for magazines, photo shoots or commercials. As a photo model I worked a lot for Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar and other fashion magazines.

“You currently live in Paris-New York. How difficult is it to live between the two cities? Where do you feel more at home, and what links you to each of these two cities?”

Both in Paris and in New York I feel at home, I can not make the difference, and I have spent the same amount of time in both cities.

The urban environment itself can sometimes be tiring, but I often travel and I like to go to nature for recreation and sports. Paris is still the most important fashion center, but New York is the number one destination for modern art, theaters, and increasingly film. Therefore, what attracted me the most to both cities was their relation to my job.

“You studied acting, but you still decided to become a producer. How did that happen?”

After a successful modeling career, I started working as a theater and film actress, mostly in New York. It took a long time to build my career, but from the moment I became a wife and then a mother, I had to make some important decisions in my life. Instead of constant business engagement, I decided to spend more time with my family. At that time, I had already spent 20 years in the show business and it was necessary for me to take a break, but it took a little longer than I expected. Actually, then, my husband and I started to cooperate on his art and his projects made is travel all around the world. Just three years ago, we returned to New York, after having spent six years in Paris, and now we are mostly tied to New York where my daughter is now studying. I decided to direct my personal experience to film and theater production now that I am back and feeling ready to work.

“Last year you founded your production house 610FILM in New York. How did it all begin? How hard is it to succeed in the film industry in America?”

The establishment of 610 Film came after many long preparations and concepts of the kind of film or theater production I want to work on. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to create my own personal experience through production work, primarily through artistic experimental films, then documentary films about art and artists (in an unconventional way). Now I am also preparing a project with theater directors to film their preparation for a new performance and the transformations through which the acting process comes to light. Also, I plan to film opera performances in unusual ways and places.

“You are currently working on the documentary film "Beyond Brooklyn and Berlin". Can you tell us more about this project?”

Last November during the AMF conference in Saint Monica, I met a US-German producer who wanted to work with me on my concept of creating a documentary film about the underground art scene. Derek Marshall invited me to come to Berlin and see the performances of trans people and drag queens at a popular club where he is one of the owners. So I spent the last days of last year in east Berlin, completely inspired by the entire artistic milieu I discovered there. I returned to Berlin after a mere month for the film festival in early February with Ivan Talijancic, a theater director and friend, and I began to film a part of that story. I am currently in post production with this project.

“You are married to the famous Brazilian sculptor Saint Clair Cemin, on whom you are currently working on a documentary. What does your cooperation on this project look like?”

Saint Clair wanted to create an interesting project with his friend, Italian film director Antonio Tibaldi, so they came up to me with a common concept a couple of months ago. I really liked their idea and immediately I began to find a way to make it happen. The concept is based on the stories of Greek mythology, at the same time combined with their personal experiences. Antonio comes from an Australian family who immigrated to Italy more than a hundred years ago, and Saint Clair’s ancestors are Portuguese-Italians who immigrated to Brazil. From the moment when Saint Clair designed to make a floating boat of marble that is 5 meters long, Antonio with his film team stayed with Saint Clair and filmed every detail related to the materialization of this idea. From Brooklyn to Beijing to Sao Paolo, this story is currently under development. The ultimate destination is Brazil, the land of Saint Clair's ancestry. I am not present in the shoots and traveling because I want their joint approach to be completely free, without my influence; and, regardless of the time difference, we communicate daily and monitor all the phases of this collaboration while I work on other projects. When the documentary is completely finished, I will see it based on the material will give me.

“After a series of criticisms that it did not pay enough attention to women in the film industry, the Cannes film festival declared 2015 as the "Year of the Woman". Since you visited the festival, what are your impressions? Do you think women have equal chances in the film industry as well as men?”

Yes, the truth is that more and more women are producers in the film world. Right here in New York, I became a member of the NYWIF (Women's Association of Film Workers) immediately after the founding of the company. In my opinion, when it comes to any creative activity, there is no difference between men or women; however, it is true that it is much more difficult to deal with this business when you have family obligations. Being a mother is one of the toughest roles I have ever had, but it is undeniably the most important and most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. Frankly, I did realize until now, when you asked me, that most of my foreign associates are female producers.

“Since Breakfast is an online magazine, what do you think about the changes that modern technology, the Internet and social networks have brought to our life?”

For a long time I could not imagine life without my computer, iPhone, iPad ... My entire creative process is based on the use of technological tools. From camera selection to postproduction and correspondence, up to assembly.

“What are you currently most engaged in and what projects are still in the pipeline?”

I am currently working on the adaptation of a novel and the modification of scenarios. Before the trip to Europe at the end of this week I will film another scene here in Manhattan with Adam Fuss, an English artist and photographer, in his studio.

“The music you are listening to right now”

I constantly listen to classical music, with the original music choices sent by my associates to our projects. But I also love to listen to opera and alternative jazz.

“The book you are currently reading”

Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity.

“A site you visit every day”

Twitter, Theatre Mania, BBC, Le Monde, Variety, Film ...

“The journey you are fond of remembering”

It's hard to distinguish, as I travel all over the world. But, I was recently in Arizona and I discovered new destinations (Sedona and Jerome Town) that incredibly inspired me to do a movie about setting up Thais, the opera, in the middle of the desert. Likewise, all departures to Asia or South America have always been maximally exciting and creative.

“What you always carry with you”

My phone.

“Favorite breakfast and place for breakfast”

It depends where. In Paris, Café Flore or the closest diner in New York.

“Message to our readers and readers”

My motto is: dreams do come true.