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Young, talented, European. The ten actors chosen as SHOOTING STARS 2012 – Europe’s best young actors are all of this and even more: With their outstanding work in feature films they have proven themselves ready to expand their film careers beyond their home countries to the world’s screens. From February 11 to 13, European Film Promotion (EFP) will showcase these newcomers from around Europe at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, running February 9 – 19, 2012. EFP member organisations had nominated 23 candidates for final selection by the jury of internationally established film industry professionals. SHOOTING STARS is part of EFP’s annual programme that is financially supported by theMEDIA Programme of the European Union and the participating EFP member organisations.

Now in its 15th year the annual event at the Berlinale supports and champions young European actors with the aim of providing them with professional contacts to take the next big leap in their international careers. The showcase culminates in a glittering award ceremony at the Berlinale Palast where the talent will be honoured with the SHOOTING STARS AWARD – donated by TESiRO. After their introduction at the Berlinale, the SHOOTING STARS´ participants will continue to demonstrate the richness of European cinema internationally at festivals and film events around the globe. With this mandate they follow in the footsteps of former SHOOTING STARS such as Carey Mulligan, Moritz Bleibtreu, Mélanie Laurent, Alba Rohrwacher, Domhnall Gleeson and Elena Anaya.

Dutch Oscar-winning director Marleen Gorris, member of the SHOOTING STARS jury, commented: “The films were a real pleasure to watch. We came away marvelling at the often brilliant way the nominated actors portrayed the feeling of a kind of modern loneliness, taking you on a journey in their search for identity no matter which part of Europe they came from. It was a real challenge choosing our ten favourites from such an interesting and high-quality group of nominees.”

Further members of the jury are: Thure Lindhardt (actor and former SHOOTING STAR, Denmark), Ada Solomon (producer, Romania), Simone Bär (casting director, Germany) and Matt Mueller (film journalist, UK).

From left to right::

France: Adèle Haenel (House of Tolerance), Germany: Anna Maria Mühe (November Child), Iceland: Hilmar Gudjónsson (Either Way), Ireland: Antonia Campbell-Hughes (The Other Side Of Sleep), Italy: Isabella Ragonese (The First Assignment), Poland: Jakub Gierszał (Suicide Room), Romania: Ana Ularu (Outbound), Sweden: Bill Skarsgård (Simple Simon), Switzerland: Max Hubacher (The Foster Boy), UK: Riz Ahmed (Four Lions)

France: Adèle Haenel

Nominated by uniFrance films

Selected Films:

Water Lilies (Naissance des pieuvres) by Céline Sciamma (France 2006)

House of Tolerance (L’Apollonide) by Bertrand Bonello (France 2011)

Heat Wave (Après le Sud) by Jean-Jacques Jauffret (France 2011)

Jury’s comment: Coming from a country renowned for producing great screen actresses, Haenel still stands out as a true original. Whether playing tomboyish, spiky, fragile or misunderstood, she is always daring and hypnotic, vanishing into her characters with unabashed fearlessness.

Germany: Anna Maria Mühe

Nominated by German Films

Selected Films:

Cracks In The Shell (Die Unsichtbare) by Christian Schwochow (Germany 2010)

November Child (Novemberkind) by Christian Schwochow (Germany 2007)

Big Girls Don’t Cry (Große Mädchen weinen nicht) by Maria von Heland (Germany, 2002)

Jury’s comment: Never predictable despite her already impressive body of work, Mühe is an actress of consummate skill whose ability to bring such a great variety of characters to vivid life is both rare and breath-taking. Vibrant, complex and technically commanding.

Iceland: Hilmar Gudjónsson

Nominated by Icelandic Film Centre

Selected Films:

Either Way (Á annan veg) by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Iceland 2011)

Mr. Bjarnfreðarson (Bjarnfreðarson) by Ragnar Bragason (Iceland 2009)

Black’s Game (Svartur á leik) by Óskar Thór Axelsson (Iceland 2012)

Jury’s comment: A compelling and wonderful actor with a strong, tangible style even playing the seemingly weak, foolish boy at the heart of Either Way. With his versatility and ability to stand out, Gudjónsson has a promising career ahead.

Ireland: Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Nominated by Irish Film Board

Selected Films:

The Other Side Of Sleep by Rebecca Daly (Ireland, The Netherlands, Hungary 2011)

Kelly and Victor by Kieran Evans (UK, Ireland 2011)

Albert Nobbs by Rodrigo Garcia (Ireland, UK 2011)

Jury’s comment: Antonia’s acting is seductively minimalistic but demonstrates magnificent charisma at the same time. In The Other Side Of Sleep, her character’s inner solitude and sadness are conveyed with haunting, empathetic power. She is a performer of wonderful soul and depth.

Italy: Isabella Ragonese

Nominated by Cinecittà Luce – Filmitalia

Selected Films:

The First Assignment (Il primo incarico) by Giorgia Cecere (Italy 2010)

Our Life (La nostra vita) by Daniele Luchetti (Italy, France 2010)

Her Whole Life Ahead (Tutta la vita davanti) by Paolo Virzì (Italy 2008)

Jury’s comment: Ragonese is an actress of great versatility and deep intelligence, with a commanding ability to present a clear emotional journey on screen. This makes her an extremely accessible screen presence, capable of fragility, intensity, sophistication and edginess.

Poland: Jakub Gierszał

Nominated by Polish Film Institute

Selected Films:

Suicide Room (Sala Samobójców) by Jan Komasa (Poland 2011)

All That I Love (Wszystko co Kocham) by Jacek Borcuch (Poland 2009)

Lasting Moments (WT) (Chwile Nieulotne) by Jacek Borcuch  (Poland 2011/12)

Jury’s comment: From the moment you see him, it is clear that Gierszał was born to be on the big screen. Revealing a kaleidoscope of emotions, his ability to draw you into a story is unparalleled. He is touching, believable, sensitive – a pure and unique talent.

Romania: Ana Ularu

Nominated by Romanian Film Promotion

Selected Films:

Outbound (Periferic) by Bogdan George Apetri (Romania, Austria 2011)

Turkey Girl (Legenda Curcanului Zburator) by Cristian Mungiu (Romania, Germany 2005), short film

The Italian Girls (Italiencele) by Nap Toader (Romania 2004)

Jury’s comment: With Outbound, Ularu not only carries an entire film on her shoulders but does so with a complex, difficult character in convincing, magnetic fashion. Steely yet vulnerable, she possesses an amazing and adaptable physical presence, and eyes that really do serve as windows to her soul.

Sweden: Bill Skarsgård

Nominated by Swedish Film Institute

Selected Films:

Simple Simon (I rymden finns inga känslor) by Andreas Öhman (Sweden 2010)

Simon and the Oaks (Simon och ekarna) by Lisa Ohlin (Sweden, Germany 2011)

The Crown Jewels (Kronjuvelerna) by Ella Lemhagen (Sweden 2011)

Jury’s comment: In Simon and the Oaks, Skarsgård conveys depth, emotion and deep longing as a young man plunged into an identity crisis and desperate to know more about his family background. His acting feels like an exploration that we are lucky enough to witness.

Switzerland: Max Hubacher

Nominated by Swiss Films

Selected Films:

The Foster Boy (Der Verdingbub) by Markus Imboden (Switzerland, Germany 2011)

Stationspiraten by Michael Schaerer (Switzerland 2010)

Jury’s comment: In a performance of beautiful clarity, Hubacher conveys the struggle, suffering and will to survive of his Foster Boy with enlightening authenticity. Given his young age, it is impressive how he is able to make such a strong and moving connection with the audience.

United Kingdom: Riz Ahmed

Nominated by British Council

Selected Films:

Shifty by Eran Creevy (UK 2009)

Four Lions by Christopher Morris (UK 2010)

The Road to Guantanamo by Michael Winterbottom (UK 2006)

Jury’s comment: Watching Ahmed on screen is to be treated to an actor of extraordinary presence and talent. In Trishna, he bridges love and rage, fragility and power, tenderness and brutality. A versatile, elegant, dignified actor with outstanding potential.