Born in Belgium to Angolan emigre parents — which explains her mellifluous name and fluency in four languages — 20-year-old Canga Antonio was studying communications in Brussels when she auditioned for “Black,” a contemporary take on “Romeo and Juliet,” because she loved the drama. “When I heard they were going to make a film about it, I absolutely wanted to be in it,” she says. A natural talent, she was chosen from more than 450 hopefuls for the female lead. Now Canga Antonio is postponing her studies to pursue an acting career.
Courtesy of Filip Van Roe
Lou de Laage
Strong turns in Christian Duguay’s “Jappeloup” and a teen whose angelic looks belie devilish actions in Melanie Laurent’s “Breathe” demonstrated her versatility. Since then, 25-year-old de Laage shot Piero Messina’s “The Wait” and Anne Fontaine’s “Agnus Dei,” a 2016 Sundance World Cinema competitor. Asked about the differences in working with male vs. female helmers, she maintains that it’s more about dealing with different imaginations and sensibilities, which have nothing to do with gender. She’s working on several stage projects and will collaborate on a play with Laurent.
Courtesy of Lou de LaEge
Atli Oskar Fjalarsson
After acclaimed performances in Icelandic film and TV, including Runar Runarsson’s multi-laureled “Sparrows,” 23-year-old Fjalarsson is studying at the New York Film Academy. “They have one of the top hands-on programs in the world, where you get to work with filmmakers from other departments to make projects come to life,” he says. After his studies? “There are several possible features on the horizon. Most of them are European but some stretch as far as South America, which is very exciting. Right now I’m treading lightly and trying to choose the right next step.”
Courtesy of Atli Iskar Fjalarsson
Known for her extreme teen characters, including leads in “Lollipop Monster” and “Combat Girls,” which together earned her a Bavarian Film Award for newcomer actress in 2012, 23-year-old Haase has two features in 2016. “In ‘Looping’ by Leonie Krippendorff, I’m playing a young girl craving all kinds of experiences who gets to know two grown-up women and falls in love with both,” she says. “And in ‘Nirgendwo,’ directed byMatthias Starte, I’m a girl who doesn’t know what she should do after finishing school and gets stuck somehow.” For Haase, “the most important is that a role fascinates me.”
Courtesy of Debora Brune
Lazovic was plucked from the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art to make her screen debut in Vinko Bresan’s hit comedy “The Priest’s Children,” but it was her performance in Dalibor Matanic’s Cannes prize-winner “The High Sun” that garnered her the praise of critics around the world. Lazovic also performs on stage and is the lead vocalist in a jazz band. The 25-year-old is shooting a new TV series with Matanic called “Newspapers.” Her latest film, Zrinko Ogresta’s “On the Other Side,” world preems in the Berlinale Panorama.
Courtesy of Tihana Lazovic
Kacey Mottet Klein
Mottet Klein made his screen debut at the age of 10 in Ursula Meier’s “Home” and won wider acclaim in her 2012 Berlinale competition title “Sister.” The helmer even made a short docu about him: “Kacey Mottet Klein, Birth of an Actor.” Now 17, the thesp has gone on to play leads in pics by French and Belgian directors. His latest film, Andre Techine’s “Being 17,” world preems in the 2016 Berlinale competition. “I quit school because I want to work as an actor,” he says. “It’s the one thing I am passionate about.”
Courtesy of Kacey Mottet Klein
Half-Greek, half-Belgian, Patakia graduated from the Greek National Theater in 2013 and made her screen debut in Yorgos Zois’ “Interruption.” Her upcoming films include Constantine Giannaris’ “Spring Awakening” and Alexandros Voulgaris’ “Thread.” The 24-year-old recently moved to Paris seeking greater opportunities. “Since the means to make movies in Greece is limited, filmmakers make them any way they can,” she says. “These limitations force them to make creative choices.”
Courtesy of Daphné Patakia
Reinout Scholten van Aschat
Already boasting impressive stage and screen credits, the 26-year-old Scholten van Aschat stars in the Rotterdam fest opener “Beyond Sleep,” helmed by Boudewijn Koole, whose “Kauwboy” nabbed the Berlinale feature debut kudo in 2012. “I try to combine camera acting and stage acting as much as I can,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to give up one of the two. The beauty of camera acting is the inward movement. … on stage you have to communicate with your whole body.”
Courtesy of Reinout Scholten van Aschat
The graceful Serraiocco, who studied dance as well as acting, made a powerful impression as a blind girl in her screen debut, “Salvo,” winning an Italian Golden Globe and Newcomer of the Year. The 25-year-old will soon be seen in “Accabadora” by Enrico Pau and “La ragazza del mondo” by Marco Danieli. “There are a lot of directors that I admire and with whom I would love to work (including) Alejandro Inarritu,” she says. “My favorite Italian director is Matteo Garrone. I love the way he represents reality in his movies.”
Courtesy of Emanuele Pasquet
After her Goya-winning debut in “The Bolshevik’s Weakness,” Valverde forged an international career including an incendiary role in Jordan Scott’s U.K. indie “Cracks” and Ridley Scott’s “Exodus.” The 27-year-old stars in the Sundance world competition title “Ali and Nino,” directed by Asif Kapadia. She will also feature in new projects by French helmers Melanie Laurent and Cedric Klapisch. “The thing that I love the most is to travel and to know different cultures, learn new languages and be with new people,” she says.