Dangerous love triangles, committed social workers, spiritual transformations, serial killers, fearless war reporters... welcome to the world of our EUROPEAN SHOOTING STARS 2020! The 23rd edition of EFP's talent promotion programme will present ten of the best up-and-coming young actresses and actors from Europe from the 21 – 24 February 2020 to the film industry, public and international press during the 70th Berlin International Film Festival (20 February – 1 March 2020).

The outstanding talents were selected by a jury of industry experts, who deemed them ready to step out onto the international film scene. To support this, the programme offers them the unique opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with over 80 internationally operating casting directors, producers and filmmakers, laying the foundation for a professional network much needed when embarking upon an international career. The programme culminates in an awards ceremony at the Berlinale Palast on Monday 24th February, where each actor will be honoured with the EUROPEAN SHOOTING STARS Award. EFP's flagship initiative is financially supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and the respective national film institutes, EFP's member organisations.

It was quite a challenge for the jury to choose the ten best actresses and actors out of this year's 28 nominations of outstanding European talent, most of them already award-winning in their home countries. Here are the ten, that thrilled the jury the most: Martina Apostolova from Bulgaria "lends her characters an archetypal power that can connect with all audiences" in Irina (2018), for which she won numerous Best Actress awards from Hong Kong to Tbilisi. In the performance of Estonian Shooting Star Pääru Oja in Mihkel (2018) they observed "...the soul of a boy that shines in Pääru Oja...you always can find this infectious vitality with him." The performance of Victoria Carmen Sonne from Denmark "counters and transforms...challenges with grace, innocence and undaunted levity" as seen in Holiday (2018) for which she received the Danish Bodil Award and a nomination for the Danish Film Award among others. French actress Zita Hanrot convinced the jury because she "embodies and radiates a pure and primal force" as seen in the social drama School Life (2019). For his debut film And Then We Danced (2019), which garnered rave reviews and numerous awards, Levan Gelbakhiani from Georgia also received praise from the experts: "At only 21-years-old, he is already a master of physical elegance and psychological sensitivity".

German Shooting Star Jonas Dassler, who plays a serial killer in The Golden Glove (2019), nominated for the German Film Awards, was selected for his "commanding physical presence, bravery and sophistication." Only 20 years of age, Bilal Wahib from The Netherlands is this year's youngest Shooting Star, but already an old hand at acting. He started acting at 13 and this year already took on leading roles in two Dutch productions, among them Paradise Drifters (2019), which will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in the Generation section. Watching his performance the jury was "touched by his childlike gentleness, riveted by his raw ferocity, shaken up by his genuine fears". Bartosz Bielenia from Poland, who plays the multi-award-winning lead in this year's shortlisted Polish Oscar nomination Corpus Christi (2019) won the jury over by the way he "with his seemingly infinite faculties...walks the maddening paths of despair and redemption." In Joana Ribeiro from Portugal, who already worked with Antoine Fuqua and Terry Gilliam, the experts discovered a "spellbinding universe of enchantment and passion, anger and affection" as seen in Crooked Lines (2019). Ella Rumpf from Switzerland enthused them with her versatility. "The world is a stage for this chameleon-like performer that plays both her body and soul like instruments." A quality proven by her very diverse roles including the film she was nominated with, Sympathy for the Devil (2018).

EUROPEAN SHOOTING STARS is the oldest and most efficient Europe-wide initiative to cast a spotlight on the most talented, up-and-coming actresses and actors. Each year an impressive average of eight out of ten winners will take part in international casting sessions following the award. Since its first showcase in 1998, a total of 312 European Shooting Stars have been presented at the Berlinale, one of the most important international film festivals worldwide. Most notable actors of recent years include: Carey Mulligan (Mudbound), Alba Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro), Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider), Pilou Asbaek (Game of Thrones), Riz Ahmed (The Sisters Brothers), Marwan Kenzari (Instinct) and George MacKay (Captain Fantastic).

The members of the 2020 jury are: British casting director Lucy Bevan, Finnish director Dome Karukoski, producer Katarína Krnáčová from Slovakia, former Bulgarian Shooting Star turned director Vesela Kazakova, and film journalist Rüdiger Sturm from Germany.

The European Shooting Stars 2020 are supported by their national film institutes, EFP's member organisations: Bulgarian National Film Center, Danish Film Institute, Estonian Film Institute, Georgian National Film Center, German Films, Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual I.P. / ICA (Portugal), Polish Film Institute, SEE NL (The Netherlands), SWISS FILMS and UniFrance.


Martina Apostolova (Bulgaria)
nominated by Bulgarian National Film Center

Jury's comment:  "From her performances speaks a deeply felt understanding of the foul and fair days of the human condition. An understanding that manifests in countless facets: from wry lightness over fierce despair to heart-wrenching tenderness. With her wisdom and maturity she injects an authenticity into her characters that makes them universally relatable. She lends them an archetypal power that can connect with all audiences and all stories."

Victoria Carmen Sonne (Denmark)
nominated by Danish Film Institute

Jury's comment: "Beauty is a phenomenon of baffling complexity. It resonates with mystery. It combines the allure of seeming naivete with formidable strength and resilience. Beauty is fragile, endangered and prone to be taken advantage of . Yet it counters and transforms these challenges with grace, innocence and undaunted levity. This is what we witness in the acting of Victoria Carmen Sonne. With this she gives life to movies and movies give life to her."

Pääru Oja (Estonia)
nominated by Estonian Film Institute

Jury's comment: "Some say that children are the best actors. Because of their endearing enthusiasm, their boundless imagination, their untainted genuineness. In one moment they are crushed by sour adversity, in the next they explode with joy. And it is the soul of a boy that shines in Pääru Oja. No matter if he's the mischievous prankster, the naive optimist or simply devastated, you always can find this infectious vitality with him. So there's one thing in particular that we'd like to tell him: Go out and play."

Zita Hanrot (France)
nominated by UniFrance

Jury's comment: "Movies can wake us from our little lives rounded with sleep. They can open up gateways to half-forgotten energies and dreams. For this, they need actresses like Zita Hanrot. Why her? Because she embodies and radiates a pure and primal force. But she has also mastered this fierceness. She is able channel it in performances of touching nuance and subtlety. Which makes her a true shooting star. One that will not burn out."

Levan Gelbakhiani (Georgia)
nominated by Georgian National Film Center

Jury's comment: "What is the secret of acting? Perhaps you need to carry music in yourself. For this theory, Levan Gelbakhiani is the best proof. At only 21 years old, he is already a master of physical elegance and psychological sensitivity. This way he is able to capture all the pains and pitfalls of growing up, while dazzling us with his technical prowess. He literally gives birth to the dancing star that Mr. Nietzsche once conceived."

Jonas Dassler (Germany)
nominated by German Films

Jury's comment: "Actors are adventurers. They dive into the treacherous tides of mankind's affairs. Jonas Dassler knows how this feels. And what it takes. He has shown the human side of monsters and revealed the monstrosities of humans. In this he also exposed the dark humor of the absurd, which proves his astounding maturity. With his commanding physical presence, bravery and sophistication, he is set for even greater adventures. Fasten your seatbelts!"

Bilal Wahib (The Netherlands)
nominated by SEE NL

Jury's comment: "Bilal Wahib is the youngest of our Shooting Stars. And he possesses all the glory and the agony that are part of being young. When you see him in his films, you are touched by his childlike gentleness, riveted by his raw ferocity, shaken up by his genuine fears. In other words: You are enthralled by his authentic energy. You realize that with his energy he can avoid the slings and arrows of this outrageous business. He can push open the door to a future of glory. Without a trace of agony."

Bartosz Bielenia (Poland)
nominated by Polish Film Institute

Jury's comment: "The sinner and the saint. The devil and the angel. If you doubt that these opposites can meet in one man, think again. Because Bartosz Bielenia will make you believe. With this seemingly infinite faculties he walks the maddening paths of despair and redemption. With this mesmerizing presence he makes you want to join him on these walks. While at the same time he carries a whole movie on his shoulders. Shall we explain his talents? Impossible. Let's just call them magic."

Joana Ribeiro (Portugal)
nominated by ICA

Jury's comment: ""The eyes are the windows of the soul, and by extension the soul itself" writes Shakespeare. Unlike the jury, he could not see Joana Ribeiro in her performances. If he had, he would have entered through the windows of her eyes. He would have discovered a spellbinding universe of enchantment and passion, anger and affection. A universe that invites you to explore its enigmas and richness in a true soul odyssey. Beings like Joana encompass such a cosmos. We mortals call them movie stars."

Ella Rumpf (Switzerland)
nominated by SWISS FILMS

Jury's comment: "She is the heroine of 1,000 faces. That speaks 1,000 tongues. – Almost. Whether in war-torn Bosnia or Freudian Vienna, among the cannibals of France or the outcasts of Berlin, Ella Rumpf always stands the test. The whole world is a stage for this chameleon-like performer that plays both her body and soul like instruments. Yet during all her journeys she displays one true, powerful identity. Like a mythical heroine. Joseph Campbell would be proud."

The European Shooting Stars 2020 are supported by their national film institutes, EFP's member organisations: Bulgarian National Film Center, Danish Film Institute, Estonian Film Institute, Georgian National Film Center, German Films, Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual I.P. / ICA (Portugal), Polish Film Institute, SEE NL (The Netherlands), SWISS FILMS and UniFrance.


Karin Dix
Project Director

Doris Bandhold
Press and Communication

EFP will once again be supported in their international press campaign by the London-based PR agency, Organic Publicity.

Julia Nowicka
Tel: +44 207 052 1271
Dheeraj Agnihotri
Tel: +44 207 052 1294


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