‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Joins Europe’s Shooting Stars Showcase

The selection includes Finland's Emmi Parviainen (left) and Lithuania's Aiste Dirziute (right)

RIGA, Latvia — European Shooting Stars, an event at the Berlin Film Festival that helped launch the careers of “James Bond” star Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Daniel Bruhl, has selected the up-and-coming actors for February’s showcase, including Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in “Game of Thrones.”

European Film Promotion, the organization that stages the showcase, has revealed that the 10 thesps are Denmark’s Joachim Fjelstrup, Germany’s Jannis Niewöhner, Finland’s Emmi Parviainen, Iceland’s Hera Hilmar, Ireland’s Moe Dunford, Lithuania’s Aistė Diržiūtė, The Netherlands’ Abbey Hoes, Spain’s Natalia de Molina, Switzerland’s Sven Schelker and U.K.’s Williams.

The thesps were selected from a long list of 23 actors nominated by the EFP member organizations. A jury that included casting director Nathalie Cheron, whose credits include Luc Besson’s Scarlett Johansson starrer “Lucy,” and director Malgorzata Szumowska, whose film “In the Name Of” won the Teddy Award at the Berlin film fest last year, made the final selection.

Szumowska said: “The jury deliberated at length over what constitutes ‘star quality’ — that rare and special something that allows these actors to rise above their peers and to display not only impressive technical skill in their performances — but also something more. We pored over showreels and past performances of young actors from all over Europe and our discussions in Hamburg this month have resulted in what we think is a particularly strong year.”

THE SHOOTING STARS
DENMARK: Joachim Fjelstrup (Nominated by Danish Film Institute)
Selected films:
“Itsi Bitsi,” dir: Ole Christian Madsen (2015)
“April 9th,” dir: Roni Ezra (2015)
Jury’s comment: “Joachim couldn’t have made a better feature film debut than “Itsi Bitsi” — as real-life beatnik rocker Eik Skaløe he is simply captivating, bringing out all the elements of a man whose tragically short, tormented life was nevertheless brightened by love, laughter and head-on rock’n’roll excitement.”

GERMANY: Jannis Niewöhner (Nominated by German Films)
Selected films:
“The Girl King,” dir: Mika Kaurismäki (2015)
“4 Kings,” dir: Theresa von Eltz (2014)
“Sapphire Blue,” dir: Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schöde (2013)
Jury’s comment: “It’s rare that an actor can move seamlessly from the real to the fantastical, but Jannis showed considerable range with his showreel, being both the charismatic lead of glossy time-travel adventure ‘Sapphire Blue’ as well as the intense young man looking for the secrets of life in the powerful short ‘Zehn Sekunden Himmel.'”

FINLAND: Emmi Parviainen (Nominated by Finnish Film Foundation)
Selected film:
“Eila, Rampe and the Baby Girl,” dir: Taru Mäkelä (2015)
“The Princess of Egypt,” dir: Jan Forsström (2013)
Jury’s comment: “Emmi impressed us all with her performance in ‘The Princess of Egypt,’ playing young mother Marja with great tenderness and doing so with all the toughness and determination of a single parent who’s just trying to get by. She’s not afraid of Marja’s flaws either, which adds an extra, raw layer of truth.”

ICELAND: Hera Hilmar (Nominated by Icelandic Film Center)
Selected films:
“Life in a Fishbowl,” dir: Baldvin Z (2014)
“Anna Karenina,” dir: Joe Wright (2012)
“The Quiet Storm,” dir: Gudny Halldorsdottir (2007)
Jury’s comment: “Hera was an easy choice to make, showing herself as adept and expressive when performing in English as her native Icelandic, and playing historical characters just as effortlessly as their modern-day counterparts. Despite those timeless, angelic looks, however, Hera’s range is deceptive — there’s definitely a fire there.”

IRELAND: Moe Dunford (Nominated by Irish Film Board)
Selected films:
“Patrick’s Day,” dir: Terry McMahon (2015)
“Traders,” dir: Peter Murphy (2015)
“Vikings,” dir: Various (2013-present)
Jury’s comment: “Moe’s physicality and sly charm first drew us to him — the ingredients of a modern-day Hollywood hero — but his work in ‘Patrick’s Day’ sealed the deal. As schizophrenic Patrick, he shows compassion and subtlety always putting the character first, never letting Patrick’s issues overwhelm the performance.”

LITHUANIA: Aistė Diržiūtė (Nominated by Lithuanian Film Center)
Selected films:
“The Summer of Sangaile,” dir: Alanté Kavaïté (2014)
“We Will Sing,” dir: Robert Mullan (2014)
Jury’s comment: “Aisté makes her feature debut in ‘The Summer of Sangaile’ with such confidence it’s hard to believe this is her first major role. As Austé, the free-spirited muse who brings the introverted title character out of her shell, Aisté enchanted us all, playing a girl who feels fresh, fun, alive — and always real.”

THE NETHERLANDS: Abbey Hoes (Nominated by Eye International)
Selected film:
“Nena,” dir: Saskia Diesing (2014)
“To Be King,” dir: Ben Sombogaard (2012)
“Furious,” dir: Dave Schram (2011)
Jury’s comment: “Although she’s only 20, Abbey surprised us with the sheer breadth of her experience and the diverse shades of light and dark she has already mastered. Her film ‘Nena,’ in which she plays the teenage daughter of a suicidal paraplegic, is the perfect showcase for those deep wells of assurance and maturity.”

SPAIN: Natalia de Molina (Nominated by ICAA)
Selected films:
“Just Chemistry,” dir: Alfonso Albacete (2015)
“Roof and Food,” dir: Juan Miguel del Castillo (2015)
“Girls Night Out,” dir: Manuela Moreno (2014)
“Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed,” dir: David Trueba (2013)
Jury’s comment:
“After we’d seen so many dark and serious subjects being explored in European film, the versatile Natalia brought a welcome burst of sunshine. Whether playing the vamp or the girl next door, as she does so touchingly in the bittersweet ‘Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed,’ Natalia lights up the screen.”

SWITZERLAND: Sven Schelker (Nominated by Swiss Films)
Selected film:
“The Circle,” dir: Stefan Haupt (2014)
Jury’s comment:
“Another actor who makes his feature film debut with a pitch-perfect, fully formed performance, Sven bowled us over with his personality and smarts. A passionate and accessible stage actor, Sven’s poignant and intimate work in Swiss Oscar entry ‘The Circle’ tells he is amply equipped for big-screen success.”

UNITED KINGDOM: Maisie Williams (Nominated by British Council)
Selected films:
“The Falling,” dir: Carol Morley (2015)
“Gold,” dir: Niall Heery (2014)
“Heatstroke,” dir: Evelyn Purcell (2013)
“Game of Thrones,” dir: various (2011-present)
Jury’s comment: ” ‘The Game of Thrones’ fans among us needed no introduction to Maisie, but her excellent work as tomboy Arya Stark couldn’t be further from her character in schoolgirl drama ‘The Falling’: at just 17, Maisie already shows great wisdom and intuition, giving a human anchor to a story that’s full of mystery and intrigue.”

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