Variety’s 2019 10 Europeans to Watch spotlights rising talents from across the continent who are poised for breakthroughs in 2019. The selection includes emerging actors, directors, showrunners and cinematographers from six countries whose dynamic talents are being showcased on screens big and small, and on both sides of the camera. The group will be feted at the upcoming Berlin Intl. Film Festival.
Cinematographer Atlan admits it took a while for her to embrace her desire to direct. But the French DP, whose directorial feature debut, “Daniel,” premieres in Berlin’s Generation Kplus section, says her experience behind the camera helps her to “think in creative ways I wouldn’t come up with myself.” That process allows Atlan to wear more than one hat: she also shot the dystopian French thriller “Jessica Forever,” another Berlinale selection. As a DP, “my role is to understand the movie and find the ways to develop a specific aesthetic,” she says. “It feeds my work and keeps me curious and flexible.”
Actor Dassler leaped at the chance to work with his idol Fatih Akin on “The Golden Glove,” the real-life story of a Hamburg serial killer that premieres in competition in Berlin. “Through him, I really discovered German cinema and arthouse cinema,” he says. Dassler called his portrayal of the murderer Fritz Honka “a really intense journey,” but the versatile thesp — who’s won acclaim for his stage work — is poised for whatever his breakout role will bring. “I really try to find the joy not in the success, or in prizes or awards. I try to find it in the performance.”
After his striking feature debut, “Violet,” won the Berlin Generation 14plus Grand Prix in 2014, Belgian director Devos wanted to broaden the scope of his follow-up, “Hellhole,” which premieres in this year’s Panorama. A kaleidoscopic portrait of Brussels after the 2016 terrorist attacks, Devos says his sophomore effort reflects the challenge of being part of a global community, and the “burden that we somehow are connected all of a sudden to everything.” It’s a universal theme that goes beyond the melting pot of Brussels, he says. “We are really searching for a way to deal with the 21st century.”
Dragus didn’t plan on acting before landing a childhood role in Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning “The White Ribbon.” “I didn’t know who Haneke was before,” she says, laughing. But after working with the Austrian auteur, Dragus knew she “didn’t want to do anything else.” The actress has worked with the likes of Emily Atef and Cristian Mungiu, while English-language roles in “Mary Queen of Scots” and the upcoming Eddie Izzard and Judi Dench starrer “Six Minutes to Midnight” should boost her profile overseas. “I would’ve never expected that [success] when I started out,” she says.
As the son of a Bavarian bookseller, Lehmann always knew he wanted to tell stories, recording home videos on a camcorder by the age of 12. Now an established name in the German film industry, Lehmann broke out last year with “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” a youthful, hip-hop riff on “Cyrano de Bergerac” that was a surprise box-office smash. After cutting his teeth on low-budget indies, the helmer called the film “the first time in my life I could be just a director, and not a firefighter as well.” Now that breakout hit, he says, has “really opened doors.”
Making the jump to the big screen wasn’t an obvious move for stage star Pachner, who admits, “I never expected that I would do film.” The Austrian actress opens 2019 with a lead performance in Marie Kreutzer’s Berlin premiere “The Ground Beneath My Feet,” while recently landing her first U.S. studio role in the third installment of the “Kingsman” franchise. Pachner’s co-lead turn in Terrence Malick’s upcoming World War II drama “Radegund” is already garnering buzz, proving the move from theater to cinema has been almost seamless. “There’s something about [film] I just adore,” she says. “It feels like a love story.”
Though acting is in his blood, Rizwan didn’t expect his first TV role to be the lead in BBC drama “Informer.” But the young actor, whose mother and brother are both performers, eagerly stepped into the part of an East Londoner who’s recruited as an informant for a counter-terrorism squad. “I knew not only could I do the character justice, but I’m bringing my own energy, too,” he says. While the series offers a fresh take on Islam and the war on terror, Rizwan admits he’s wary of becoming a “cultural spokesperson.” But he credits his own mentors for “passing on the baton. It’d be foolish if I didn’t do the same.”
Watkins was just six years removed from interning on “The Crown” when her sci-fi thriller “Origin” was picked up by YouTube Premium, marking the streamer’s first foray into high-end European scripted series. Of all the projects the writer had been working on at the time, “it was the last one I ever thought would get made,” she admits. On set, the young showrunner says she “didn’t have time to think about” the pressure of being handed the reins of YouTube’s flagship show. Having enjoyed creative control of her first series, though, Watkins says, “I don’t know how I can do anything else now.”
Working with kids comes naturally to Wouterlood, whose short film “Anything Goes” won an Intl. Emmy Kids award and a TIFF Kids Award in Toronto. The Dutch director’s feature debut, “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess,” world premieres in the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus program. An adaptation of the novel by Anna Woltz, the coming-of-age story addresses childhood loss with a light touch that’s become a hallmark of the director’s work. Wouterlood says he’s always been drawn to children’s openness to the world, a perspective “that you sometimes lose when you are growing older.” He admits, “Sometimes I miss it.”
Yardim was better-known for comedic roles before landing the lead in Netflix’s “Dogs of Berlin,” in which he plays a gay detective investigating the murder of a German soccer player with Turkish roots. While he reveled in the intensity and range of the part, in the wake of his breakout role for the globe-spanning streamer, Yardim intends to stay grounded. “Sometimes it’s not about doing more, and the next big thing,” he says. “I don’t want to think about the future all the time. The present is good enough.”