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Berlinale Shooting Stars unveils Europe's newest film stars


Shooting Stars, an initiative of the pan-European promotion organization European Film Promotion (EFP), again used its berth at the Berlin Film Festival to introduce a host of young acting talent from across Europe.

This year, twenty-one young actors and actresses were feted and introduced to the press at one of the Berlinale’s most prized events. EFP, which represents the national film boards of almost all the countries of the EU, has presented this focus on new acting talent for the past eight years. Tonight, EFP hosts a gala at the historical Hotel Adlon on the famed Unter de Linden to toast this new generation of film talents.

Actors included in the tribute are: Frazinska Weisz (Austria), Marie Vinck (Belgium), Jan Budar (Czech Republic), Jakob Cedergren (Denmark), Kari-Pekka Toivonen (Finland), Sara Forestier (France), Max Riemelt (Germany), Alexa Kaltsiki (Greece), Dorka Gryllus (Hungary), Alfrun Ornolfsdottir (Iceland), Mark O’Halloran (Ireland), Giorgio Pasotti (Italy), Sascha Ley (Luxembourg), Monic Hendrickx (Netherlands), Trond Espen Seim (Norway),
Marisa Cruz (Portugal), Aleksandra Balmazovic (Slovenia), Unax Ugalde (Spain), Frida Hallgren (Sweden), Johanna Bantzer (Switzerland) and Archie Panjabi (UK).

For France’s Sara Forestier, a petite blonde with a young girl’s face but a ferocious personality, it has been “an honor to be chosen to represent France, and a great opportunity to be in Berlin to see the performances of my contemporaries in films presented here.”

Forestier hopes to “discover new filmmakers to work with, maybe meet a genius who will be able to cast me in their exciting new project.” Forestier, who has been acting since she was 13, has made a major success in the film Les Echives, where she plays the only white French native girl in a cast filled with Arabs, North Africans, Eastern Europeans and other immigrants who live in the purgatory of Paris’ surrounding suburbs. She also is producing a short film in which she will play a young Moslem girl who defies her family and elders by trying to live as an emancipated French teenager.

Max Riemelt, a handsome young actor representing Germany, believes that the exposure in Berlin is “a great chance to get connected to international directors and casting agents, and perhaps getting a part in a film outside of my native country.” Riemelt has the starring role in local arthouse hit Napola, the story of a young Nazi recruit whose opinions change when he becomes the school roommate of a young intellectual. The film has been sold to many European countries and will be released in the US this year.

While he is openly critical of the Hollywood industry, describing it as “mostly for the economics, a chance to make big money”, Riemelt would not turn his back on Hollywood for the right role. “If I can find a good director with a great script that has the feeling of the intelligent films being made in Europe, then I would certainly be open to working in the American film business.”

This mixture of skepticism over the American film giants and a pride of the aspirations of European cinema is something shared among almost all of the Shooting Stars participants. They are a new breed that sees European cinema as the intellectual and more humanistic counterpart to the Hollywood meat factory, and they are all certainly talents to watch in the future.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor

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