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Turkish Casting Director Harika Uygur Wins Locarno’s European Casting Award

LOCARNO, Switzerland — Turkish casting director Harika Uygur is the winner of the Locarno Film Festival’s European Casting Award for her work on the ensemble cast of “Mustang,” director Deniz Gamze Erguven’s foreign-language Oscar-nominated debut about five sisters contending with conservative mores in contemporary rural Turkey.

Chemistry between the mostly previously unknown talented young actresses — Elit Iscan, Gunes Nezihe Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Ilayda Akdogan, and Tugba Sunguroglu, who also look alike – is considered crucial to making “Mustang” a breakout hit.

Uygur (pictured), who is the founder of an acting studio in Istanbul this year, became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She recently finished casting Iraqui-Kurdish director Hiner Saleem’s “Lady Winsley,” a French, Turkish, Belgian co-production.

Uygur was voted the winner among 16 nominated casting directors by the 83 members of the International Casting Directors Network (ICDN), which represents casting directors in 24 countries.

The prize was awarded during a ceremony at Locarno’s Hotel Rinascente attended by 400 guests, including Nancy Bishop, who heads the European chapter of the Casting Society of America, London-based Debbie McWilliams, who has cast the last 13 James Bond films, and Sarajevo-based Timka Graphic who has worked, among others with the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Luc Godard, and Danis Tanovic.

These casting directors will be discussing their work at a panel Friday morning titled “Profession: Casting Director,” moderated by Rome-based Beatrice Kruger whose credits include Anton Corbijn’s “The American,” which George Clooney produced and starred in, and Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love.”

Kruger, who is a member of the Academy, is a driving force within the ICDN, which was founded in 2005 as a spin-off  of the European Shooting Stars project for young talents. The ICDN’s stated mission is to promote the profession of the casting director, to improve its standards in every country and to establish the casting director’s status within a production as a bona fide department head.

Locarno this year also has two masterclasses organised by ICDN for film students dedicated to the casting director’s profession.

These were the sixteen contenders for the European Casting Director Award: 

Simone Bär (Denmark) for “Land of Mine” by Martin Pieter Zandvliet, 2015

Nicole Schmied (Austria) for “Die Holle/Inferno” by Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2017

Youna de Peretti (France) for “Victoria” by Justine Triet, 2016

Nina Haun (Germany) for “Toni Erdmann” by Maren Ade, 2016

Esther Kling (Israel) for “One Week and a Day” by Asaph Polonsky, 2016

Francesco Vedovati (Italy) for “Pericle il Nero” by Stefano Mordini, 2016

Frank Moiselle & Nuala Moiselle (Ireland) for “The Secret Scripture” by Jim Sheridan, 2015

Rebecca van Unen (Netherlands) for “Layle M” by Mijke de Jung, 2016

Celine Engebrigtsen, (Norway)  for “Framing Mom” by Sara Johnson, 2016

Marta Kownacka (Poland) for “The Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka” by Maria Sadowska, 2017

Viorica Capdefier (Romania) for “Scarred Hearts” by Radu Jude, 2016

Luci Lennox (Spain) for “Realive” by Mateo Gil, 2016

Jeanette Klintberg (Sweden) for “A Serious Game” by Pernilla August, 2016

Corinna Glaus & Ruth Hirschfeld & Beatrice Kruger (Switzerland) for “The Divine Order” by Petra Biondina Volpe, 2017

Harika Ulgur & Kristin Diehle (Turkey)  for “Mustang” by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015

Gail Stevens (United Kingdom) for “T2 Trainspotting” by Danny Boyle, 2017

Avy Kaufman (United States) for “A Bigger Splash” by Luca Guadagnino, 2015

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