European Film Promotion has revealed the 10 actors who will take part in the 24th edition of European Shooting Stars. The program, which launches emerging European thespians onto the world stage, has boosted the careers of actors like Carey Mulligan, Alicia Vikander, Riz Ahmed and George MacKay.
For the first time, EFP will present the neophyte actors to the film industry, public and international press as part of a three-day online program. EFP’s oldest and most prestigious initiative will take place digitally from Feb. 23-25, one week before the industry events of this year’s 71st Berlinale (March 1-5). The Shooting Stars award ceremony will take place within the framework of the Berlinale screenings in the summer.
“Although this year we sadly cannot meet in person, we invite you to join, discover and celebrate the best in rising European acting talent, while staying safe at home,” EFP’s managing director Sonja Heinen said. “We are thrilled that we have been able to create a digital experience via our online hub ‘Home of Acting Talent,’ which will open its doors and emulate the spirit of our annual physical events by offering three days of specially-curated press, industry and public-facing promotion, and networking activities for this year’s chosen talent.”
A jury consisting of U.S. casting director Cassandra Han, Kosovan director Antoneta Kastrati and Danish producer René Ezra selected the 10 actors from a pool of nominations from across Europe.
The 10 selected European Shooting Stars are Finland’s Seidi Haarla, France’s Nicolas Maury, Germany’s Albrecht Schuch, Hungary’s Natasa Stork, Ireland’s Fionn O’Shea, Lithuania’s Žygimantė Elena Jakštaitė, The Netherlands’ Martijn Lakemeier, North Macedonia’s Sara Klimoska, Portugal’s Alba Baptista, and Sweden’s Gustav Lindh.
The jury said Haarla had swayed them by giving ″an intuitive, honest and understated performance that is imbued with a compelling sense of gravity” in her first major leading role, in Juho Kuosmanen’s Trans-Siberian-Railway-set drama “Compartment No 6.”
The jury ascribed ″star quality” to Maury and they were impressed by his ″outstanding performance” in his feature film debut in “My Best Part,” which was awarded the 2020 Cannes Official Selection Label.
Schuch, whose credits include feature films such as “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and “System Crasher,” and TV series “Bad Banks,” impressed the jury with ″a clear willingness to push himself to the limit and beyond.” He was nominated as a Shooting Star for “Fabian,” Domink Graf’s adaption of Erich Kästner’s satirical novel of the same name, which will be released in April 2021.
Stork convinced with her ″intoxicating and enigmatic presence″ in Lili Horvát’s “Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,” her debut lead in a feature film, for which she won the best actress awards at film festivals in Antalya, Valladolid and Les Arc.
The youngest actor of this year’s Shooting Stars is O’Shea, whose work ″has an ebullience and winsome charm yet, at the same time, misery and rage are always bubbling just below the surface” as seen in his performance as a closed-off gay teenager Eddie, in the coming-of-age comedy “Dating Amber” by David Freyne. His recent credits also include the internationally acclaimed TV show “Normal People,” directed by Lenny Abrahamson.
For her first leading role in Andrius Blaževičius’ second feature film “Runner,” which was presented as part of the online Karlovy Vary Eastern Promises program, Jakštaitė received high praise from the experts. ″Elena proves a force of nature, full of passion and raw energy that virtually leaps off the screen,” the jury said.
Well-known for his role in the most critically-acclaimed Dutch TV series in years, “Dutch Hope,” Lakemeier is also the youngest winner of the Golden Calf Award for his acting debut in “Winter in Wartime.” He enthused the jury with his ″emotionally captivating performance” in “The East” by Jim Taihuttu, a film about a dark chapter of Dutch colonial history. The judges described his performance as “honest, focused and understated in his approach, instilling his character with an intense vulnerability and audacious courage at the same time.”
The performance of Klimoska is “a revelation in the truest sense of the word, with an emotional depth that belies her years,” excellently depicted in Igor Aleksov’s feature film debut “Lena and Vladimir,” which will be released this year.
Baptista’s ″self-effacing humor” drew the jury in “so unexpectedly and strongly.” She plays the lead in the TV series “Warrior Nun,” an adaption of the comic “Warrior Nun Areala” by Ben Dunn. With her performance, she “is able to add her own unique spin to an archetypal pop-culture character.” The jury is confident about her “star potential – the size of which is clearly enormous.”
For his role in “Queen of Hearts,” Lindh received a Danish national film critics’ Bodil Award for supporting actor and was nominated for leading actor at the Danish Film Academy’s Robert Awards ceremony in 2020.
With his performance in the social distancing drama “Orca” by Josephine Bornebusch, he convinced the jury with ″a unique and fearless performance, that is both humble and layered.”
The three-day online program for the Shooting Stars – which launches with a special press presentation for international press, the film industry and the public on Feb. 24 – provides a platform for the Stars to meet casting directors, producers and filmmakers in pre-scheduled meetings and virtual hubs.