Shooting Stars 2023 at the Berlinale      

The 73rd Berlinale European Shooting Stars Awards were presented at a festive gala on 20th February, 2023. The evening awards recognizing new talent were moderated by journalist Nadine Kreutzer. During the weekend before the event, the ten Shooting Stars nominees participated in promotional interviews. Black and Paper talked to three of them.

Judith State from Romania had classical ballet training and is now a professional actress, choreographer and dancer. She says, “I always see myself first and foremost as a dancer.” In 2016, State made her screen debut in Cristi Puiu’s Sieranevada. She considered her involvement in the film as a “beautiful accident”. After premiering in Cannes, she was also nominated for a Romanian Gopo Award for Best Supporting Actress. She adds, “Ever since that moment I have been involved and have been lucky to now combine my careers in dance and film.” 

State received a Gopo Award for Best Actress in Marius Olteanu’s 2018 debut film Monsters, and Cristi Puiu’s Manor House in 2020. Both films premiered at the Berlinale and Cristi Puiu also won the Encounters Award for Best Director. In 2020, State also starred in Daniel Sandu’s The Father Who Moves Mountains and Liviu Marghidan’s Refuge. The dance film Zenith, by Hungarian director Gyuri Kristoff, followed in 2021. In 2022 she played the lead role in Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N., which premiered in Cannes. Otherwise, State doesn’t feel Romania appreciates home grown films despite international awards, adding “It is quite painful!” 

Gizem Erdogan’s Turkish parents moved to Sweden in the 1970s, where she was later born.  She studied at the Conservatory in Sweden then did a couple of years on stage. In 2014 she got the part in her debut feature film Dream On. For the film, Erdogan was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Guldbaggen Swedish Academy Awards. In 2020 the TV series Caliphate made her a national star. She has since won three Best Actress awards and says, “Caliphate was a breakthrough role for me.”    

“I am afraid of going back to the theatre,” Kristjansson

This is Erdogan’s first participation at the Berlinale. However, she confessed, “I had been dreaming about Shooting Stars since I went to drama school.” She also admitted that it is a busy schedule for the participants. Erdogan added, “I hope Shooting Stars will give me the opportunity to do international co-productions.” One such co-production is scheduled soon, but is something she can’t talk about at the moment.  

Thorvaldur Kristjansson started out in the theatre, admitting there were initially less opportunities in film. His first film role was Black’s Game in 2017, earning him a nomination for Best Actor at the Eddan Icelandic Film and TV Awards. In 2020 Kristjansson won Best Supporting Actor for The Minister, a TV Series. Roles followed in the locally popular films I Remember You and Life in a Fishbowl. He then provided voice-over for the 2021 animated short Yes-People, the film receiving an Oscar nomination. In his latest film, A Letter from Helga, he adapted the Lee Strasberg method acting style. The film topped the Icelandic box office in 2022.  

Last year Iceland had four films at the Berlinale but nothing this year. Kristjansson explains, “We are a growing industry but it’s such a small market, funded by the government.” However, he is happy they are now making independent productions, hence more variety. Currently based in Stockholm, Kristjansson is focusing on his film and TV work. He says, “I am afraid of going back to the theatre, to be honest. It is a muscle that you have to exercise.” However, with film, he adds, “You have to be in a perfect mode of focus. You need to go out and then go in (again).”  

Meanwhile, at the Berlinale, Finnish stage, TV, and film actor Alina Tomnikov won the European Shooting Stars Award for 2023. Her current film is the comedy drama The Worst Idea Ever. 

By Steven Yates