Variety’s “10 Europeans to Watch” were feted Saturday night at a party held by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg at Berlin’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Co-hosting the evening were Kirsten Niehuus and Helge Jürgens, managing directors of Medienboard, the regional film, TV and digital-media funding body.
Pictured above are U.K. filmmaker and rapper Andrew Onwubolu, known by his alias Rapman (“Blue Story,” “American Son”), Irish producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly (“Lady Macbeth,” “Ammonite”), Italian director Carlo Sironi (“Sole”), German director Leonie Krippendorff (“Cocoon”), Estonian director Tanel Toom (“Truth and Justice,” and “Gateway 6”), Germany-based Kosovan director Visar Morina (“Exile”), and Hungarian actor Abigél Szõke (“Those Who Remained”).
Before welcoming to the stage some of Europe’s most promising stars of tomorrow, Variety executive VP of content Steven Gaydos noted: “Variety is celebrating our 115th year covering international entertainment, before people were watching movies.”
He also shared the story of local producer Sol Bondy, who met Russian producers Ilya Stewart and Murad Osmann at Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch” in Cannes in 2018. That meeting planted the seed of a collaboration that bore fruit this week, as the trio share producing credits on Vadim Perelman’s Holocaust drama “Persian Lessons,” which premiered with a special gala at the Berlin Film Festival.
Among the guests who turned out on a blustery evening were Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian, director Tom Tykwer (“Babylon Berlin”), actress Florence Kasumba (“Black Panther,” “Avengers,” “Wonder Woman”), director Emily Atef (“Three Days in Quiberon”), director Baran Bo Odar (“Dark”), producer Marcus Loges (“A Hidden Life”), actor-director Daniel Brühl (“Nebenan”), Berlinale Camera winner Ulrike Ottinger, Constantin Film head Martin Moszkowicz, director Christian Petzold (“Undine”), and actress Paula Beer (“Undine”).
Others attending included actress-producer Veronica Ferres (“Unforgiven”), actor Volker Bruch (“Babylon Berlin”), producer Stefan Arndt (“Babylon Berlin”), director Bastian Günther (“One of These Days”), director Ilya Khrzhanovsky (“DAU. Natasha”), Komplizen Film producers Maren Ade and Janine Jackowski (“Toni Erdmann”), Oscar-winning director Caroline Link (“Nowhere in Africa”), actor Jonas Dassler (“The Golden Glove”), actress Ella Rumpf (“Tiger Girl”), Berlinale presenter Samuel Finzi, director Burhan Qurbani (“Berlin Alexanderplatz”), actress Jella Haase (“Berlin Alexanderplatz,” “Kokon”), and actor Albrecht Schuch (“Berlin Alexanderplatz,” “System Crasher”).
Twelve Medienboard-funded films are screening in this year’s Berlinale, including three competition titles: “Undine,” “Berlin Alexanderplatz,” and “DAU. Natasha.” Niehuus said that the Berlin-based body is a tribute to a melting pot that attracts artists from around the globe, citing Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz, who’s at this year’s Berlinale with the Panorama player “Nardjes A.,” and Kosovo-born Morina, also in the Panorama strand with “Exile,” as examples of foreign filmmakers who have planted roots in the German capital.
“We feel like we’re an open, liberal city, and we want people to come and film here,” she said. “Also, we feel it’s important to support voices that stand up against regimes that are not democratic. We feel, as Germans, we have an obligation, especially as Berlin-based Germans.”
Others named to Variety’s annual list but unable to attend were U.K. actor Samuel Adewunmi, star of Sundance film “The Last Tree”; German writer-director Nora Fingscheidt, whose “System Crasher” bowed at the Berlin Film Festival last year; and writer-director Sudabeh Mortezai, whose film “Joy” was Austria’s submission for the international film Oscar race.
The team behind “System Crasher,” which became an indie hit in Germany with a $5.15 million gross, returns funding to Medienboard’s Kirsten Niehuus. (Photo: Courtesy of Medienboard)
Left: Welket Bungué, Burhan Qurbani; right: Paula Beer, Christian Petzold (Photo: Courtesy of Clemens Porikys/MBB; Sebastian Gabsch/MBB)