Breakout talents from festival favorites Saint Omer and Tori and Lokita, new faces from Netflix hits The Playlist and Babylon Berlin, and discoveries from arthouse features from across Europe are among the top 10 talents picked to be the 2023 European Shooting Stars.
The annual list of up-and-coming actors from across Europe — which has proved a reliable talent spotter over the years — was unveiled Wednesday by European Film Promotion, which organizes the selection.
The eight women and two men picked by the Shooting Star jury will attend the Berlin International Film Festival in February, where they will be introduced to the international industry, and meet with talent agents, directors and producers.
Previous European Shooting Stars have included the likes of Michaela Coel (2018), Luca Marinelli (2013), Riz Ahmed (2012), Alica Vikander (2011), Daniel Brühl (2003), Ruth Negga (2006) and Matthias Schoenaerts (2003).
Here’s a short introduction to next year’s class:
Gizem Erdogan (Sweden)
Erdogan caught the attention of European directors and casting agents after her supporting performance in Ronnie Sandahl’s 2014 feature Underdog. Her 2017 follow-up, Beyond Dreams earned her a best supporting actress nomination at the Guldbaggen awards, Swedish Film Academy prizes. But her real breakout came with SVT drama Caliphate, where she plays Pervin, a Swedish woman who travels with her husband to Syria to join ISIS. Her performance won her a best actress Kristallen — Sweden’s equivalent of the Emmys — and, after Caliphate got picked up by Netflix worldwide, international recognition. Erdogan has since become a regular on the streamer, starring in the romantic dramedy Love and Anarchy, and going blond to play a lawyer in The Playlist, about the making of Spotify.
Leonie Benesch (Germany)
Her turn as the dead-eyed daughter Eva in Michael Haneke’s 2009 Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon was Leonine Benesch’s breakout, but the German actress gained a wider audience with her turn as Greta, the naive housemaid caught up in a Nazi conspiracy in hit German series Babylon Berlin. Benesch followed up with a starring turn alongside David Tennant in the BBC/PBS remake of Around The World In 80 Days, in which she showed off her pitch-perfect British accent, as well as supporting roles in Netflix’s The Crown, playing Princess Cecile, and in AMC+’s Spy City. But she hasn’t neglected the big screen. Benesch appeared in Vadim Perelman’s Persian Lessons, a 2020 Berlin Festival entry, and stars in Ilker Çatak’s upcoming drama The Teachers’ Longue.
Yannick Jozefzoon (Netherlands)
A familiar face on Dutch screens big and small, Yannick Jozefzoon has been a best actor nominee in the Netherland’s Academy’s Golden Calf Awards for both television —for his 2018 performance in Tom Adelaar as a telemarketer suffering a crisis of identity —and film, with 2022’s Femi, where he plays a once-violent student trying to make amends with his highly pregnant ex-girlfriend. Jozefzoon continues to balance cinema and TV, with roles in hit Dutch series Amsterdam Vice and Geldwolven, as well as feature turns in Dana Nechushtan’s Piece of My Heart, which premiered at the Tallinn Film Festival last month, plus Dan Geesin’s recently-released Dutch sci-fi film Sputum.
Kayije Kagame (Switzerland)
The Swiss-born Kayije Kagame has been active as an artist, director and on-state performer of theater productions and art installations for some time now —she is currently touring with her latest work, Inner Life / Inner Night, co-directed with Hugo Radi—but film fans first discovered her as Rama, the journalist reporting on the case of infanticide in Alice Diop’s Saint Omer. Kagame’s big-screen debut was a sensation. Saint Omer won the Silver Lion won the Grand Jury prize on the Lido and is France’s official entry for the 2023 best international feature Oscar. France’s academy officially named Kagame one of the “revelations” of 2023 in this year’s César nominations.
Thorvaldur Kristjánsson (Iceland)
Thorvaldur Kristjansson’s back-to-back performances in Óskar Thór Axelsson’s crime thriller Black’s Game (2012) and Baldvin Zophoníasson’s drama Life in a Fishbowl (2014), earned the Icelandic actor a reputation for range and intensity of performance, and secured him a supporting role in Gary Shore’s horror actioner Dracula Untold (2014) alongside Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon. Since then, Kristjansson has had a leading turn in local blockbuster I Remember You and Toronto Film Festival entry The Swan (both 2017) and won an Icelandic Academy Award, an Eddie, for his supporting turn in hit political drama series The Minister. In his latest performance, in Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir’s ‘A letter from Helga,’ Kristjansson plays a husky farmer in 1940s Iceland who begins an illicit affair with a local aspiring poet.
Kristine Kujath Thorp (Norway)
A festival breakout last year with the SXSW audience award winner Ninjababy —in which she plays a party-loving cartoonist and reluctant mother-to-be engaged in a foul-mouthed debate with her unborn offspring —Kristine Kujath Thorp shifted gears, playing a no-nonsense submarine expert in John Andreas Andersen’s disaster thriller The Burning Sea. The first won her an Amanda, the Norwegian Film Academy award, for best actress. The second got her a best actress nomination, only losing out to Renate Reinsve for the Oscar-nominated indie hit The Worst Person in the World.
Thorp wowed Cannes audiences in the dark comedy Sick of Myself, playing the less-successful half of an artistic couple who is determined to outshine her partner, whatever it takes.
Joely Mbundu (Belgium)
A true discovery, Belgian actress Joely Mbundu made her acting debut as the eponymous Lokita in the Dardenne brothers’ 2022 Cannes competition film Tori and Lokita, playing the adolescent sister who has traveled alone with her young brother from Africa to Europe and is struggling to survive together. The film won a special 75th anniversary prize for the Dardennes and put Mbundu atop the list of every casting agent in Europe.
Benedetta Porcaroli (Italy)
Italian actress Benedetta Porcaroli started in TV, on popular RAI series Tutto può succedere, a remake of NBC’sParenthood, but it was playing the rebellious daughter in Paolo Genovese’s 2016 blockbuster comedy Perfect Strangers that made her name. Porcaroli followed up with the Netflix series Baby, which drew international controversy for its depiction of underage sex workers, but no one could fault her performance. She picked up a David di Donatello supporting actress nomination for 18 Presents, a Sky/Netflix movie and has been lauded for her roles in Stefano Mordini’s The Catholic School, a 2021 Venice film festival entry, and Francesca Archibugi’s The Hummingbird, which premiered in Toronto and opened this year’s Rome Film Festival. And she dazzled in the eponymous lead role in Carolina Cavalli’s 2022 Venice Festival entry Amanda, as a lonely 20-something who sets out to convince her childhood mate that they are still best friends.
Judith State (Romania)
Trained as a professional ballet dancer, Judith State shifted to acting after being cast in Cristi Puiu’s 2016 Cannes competition entry Sieranevada. Puiu cast her again in his period drama Manor House (2020), a Berlin festival entry, and she’s played the lead in Marius Olteanu’s debut film, Monsters, another Berlin title, and Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N., in Cannes competition this year. But State hasn’t lost her moves, or her love of dance. She did the choreography on Iosif Demian’s 2021 drama Night Patrol, and next appears in Zenith, a dance feature for Hungarian director Gyuri Kristoff.
Alina Tomnikov (Finland)
In Finnish TV drama Donna, Alina Tomnikov plays a blind woman forced to reenter the dating scene after her husband of 8 years leaves her for a workmate. The role got Tomnikov noticed and lead to several high-profile TV turns, including in the Sky Original series Funeral for a Dog, Marja Pyykkö’s The Paradise and the Netflix crime drama Deadwind. On the big screen, Tomnikov’s next performance will be in Pamela Tola’s upcoming dramedy The Worst Idea Ever, which rolls out in early 2023.