Each year at the Berlin Film Festival the brightest young talent from across Europe gather to celebrate becoming part of the select group of European Shooting Stars. Spearheaded by the European Film Promotion the initiative spotlights ten of the most promising talents from across the continent, and we had the chance to sit down with each of the ten Shooting Stars this week.

Stefan Pape was our man in Berlin and spoke to each of them about their careers so far, their hopes for the future and what it means to be heralded as a European Shooting Star.

You can find each of the interviews below, along with a brief biography, selected film and TV works and a commendation from the jury about what makes them so promising.

Ardalan Esmaili (Sweden)


Raised in Sweden by Iranian parents, Ardalan Esmaili studied at Stockholm’s University of Dramatic Arts. Upon graduating he performed his much talked-about monologue “No Title” at Stockholm Civic Theatre and worked with stellar names from Sweden’s acting world at The Royal Dramatic Theatre. Having become a familiar face to audiences via his TV roles, Esmaili captured the international audience in 2017 with his performance in Milad Alami’s film, The Charmer and in the tv series Greyzone in 2018. Esmaili is at work on Sea Fever by Neasa Hardiman and Can You See The Moon, Daniel, by Niels Arden Oplev.

Films / TV Series:

The Charmer (Charmøren), 2017
by Milad Alami (Denmark, Sweden)

The Girl, the Mother and the Demons (Flickan, Mamman och Demonerna), 2016
by Suzanne Osten (Sweden)

Beck – The Last Day (Beck – Sista dagen), 2016
by Jörgen Bergmark (Sweden)

Jury’s comment: “With a leading man quality showing tremendous honesty in all his performances, Ardalan Esmaili climbs out of the expected and surprises us. In Milad Alami’s The Charmer, Esmaili instills his character with a tormented fragility and delivers a quietly twitchy, brilliant code-switching performance that retains the audience’s sympathy.”

Aisling Franciosi (Ireland)

Aisling Franciosi, classically trained as a singer and pianist and fluent in Italian, first appeared in the BBC series, The Fall for which she received the Irish Film and Television Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 2015. She was cast in Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2014. Most recently, she played the lead in The Nightingale by Jennifer Kent, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival 2018. Franciosi was honored as one of Screen Daily’s prestigious “Stars of Tomorrow” in 2015.

Films / TV Series:

The Nightingale, 2018
by Jennifer Kent (Australia)

Jimmy’s Hall, 2015
by Ken Loach (United Kingdom, Ireland)

The Fall, 2013
by Allan Cubitt,Jakob Verbruggen (United Kingdom, Ireland)

Jury’s comment: “Aisling Franciosi forms a powerful symbiosis with her character in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, thus revealing great acting range and superb instincts, as well as profound sensitivity and intelligence in the way she interprets a scene. Her physical transformation is exceptional, morphing spectacularly into Joan of Arc from a young and fragile woman, all the while masterfully and carefully controlling her performance.”

Rea Lest (Estonia)

Rea Lest studied acting at the Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and has been performing on stage – in Tallin and throughout Europe – with Theatre NO99 since 2014. Her leading roles on the big screen include The Manslayer / The Virgin /The Shadow (2017) directed by Sulev Keedus and the international hit November (2017) by Rainer Sarnet, for which she received a Best Actress nomination at Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Actress at the Estonian Film Awards. Most recently, she has the lead role in Scandinavian Silence by Martti Helde.

Films / TV Series:

November (November), 2017
by Rainer Sarnet (Estonia, The Netherlands, Poland)

The Manslayer / The Virgin / The Shadow (Mehetapja / Süütu / Vari), 2017
by Sulev Keedus (Estonia, Lithuania)

Mother (Ema), 2016
by Kadir Kousaar (Estonia)

Jury’s comment: “Who said you cannot act with your toe? Rea Lest-Liik can most certainly do that! She possesses the incredible skill to control her body in every sense: her movements draw you in, while her face becomes the playground for every imaginable expression. Rea Lest-Liik’s beguiling ability to fill the frame with sheer fierceness, forcefulness and passion impressed the jury.”

Milan Marić (Serbia)

Milan Maric studied at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. He took to the stage at a young age, acting with the youth group “Dadov” and at other professional theatres in Serbia as well as with the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade. Maric starred in several successful shorts and had supporting roles in a number of Serbian feature films. He enjoyed immense success with his lead role in Alexei German’s Dovlatov, which earned him the Chopard Talent Award (2018), Moscow Film Festival and which won a Silver Bear at the 2018 Berlinale.

Films / TV Series:

Dovlatov (Dovlatov), 2018
by Alexej German (Russian Federation, Poland, Serbia)

A Good Wife (Dobra Zena), 2016
by Mirjana Karanovic (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Humidity (Vlažnost), 2016
by Nikola Ljuca (Serbia, The Netherlands, Greece)

Jury’s comment: “Authenticity, dedication and a clear attitude towards the role he is playing not only define Milan Marić as an actor but also mark his performances. In Alexei German Jr’s Dovlatov, he is gloomily charismatic, brooding and affecting. His highly nuanced acting sensibility in which he carefully chooses the means through which he will convey the film’s subject makes him a talent to watch.”

Kristín Thora Haraldsdóttir (Iceland)


Kristin Thora Haraldsdóttir has had the lead roles in two recent award-winning Icelandic films: Sundance winner and international hit, And Breathe Normally by Isold Uggadottir, and in Baldvin Z’s Let me Fall, which premiered at Toronto 2018. Haraldsdottir has appeared in award-winning Icelandic TV series and continues to act on stage at Reykjavik’s City Theatre and the National Theatre of Iceland. For her theatre work, she won the Icelandic Theatre Award (2015) and an Icelandic Honorary Award for Outstanding work as an actress (2014).

Films / TV Series:

Let Me Fall (Lof mér að falla), 2018
by Baldvin Z (Iceland, Finland, Germany)

And Breathe Normally (Andið Eðlilega), 2018
by Isold Uggadottir (Iceland, Belgium, Sweden)

Prisoners (Fangar), 2017
by Ragnar Bragason (Iceland)

Jury’s comment: “Kristín Thora Haraldsdóttir shows a very deep insight and understanding of her roles. Invariably compelling and always portraying challenging characters, she possesses the subtle and keen aptitude to push the boundaries of viewers’ experience therefore earning our utmost trust and attention. This is truly a remarkable quality not to be missed in an actress.”

Ine Marie Wilmann (Norway)

Norwegian actress Ine Marie Wilmann trained at the Norwegian National Academy of Theatre and has built up an impressive resume in theatre, TV and film. She was cast in Joachim Trier’s award-winning Reprise (2006) among other films, but her breakthrough came in the heralded Homesick (2015) by Anne Sewitsky. For her work in the film, Wilmann won an Amanda Award for Best Actress. For her lead role in the critically acclaimed TV thriller, The Third Eye (2014-2016), she won the Gullruten Award for Best Actress. This year Wilmann will star in Anne Sewitsky’s Sonja: The White Swan premiering at Sundance.

Films / TV Series:

Sonja: The White Swan (Sonja), 2018
by Anne Sewitsky (Norway, Denmark, Serbia)

Homesick (De Nærmeste), 2015
by Åshild Ramborg (Norway)

Jury’s comment: “Ine Maria Wilman blew the jury away with the physicality of her performance as iconic ice-skater Sonja Henie in Anne Sewitsky’s Sonja: The White Swan, where she skillfully combines (inner) strength, subtlety and profundity. Wilmann is a magnetic leading lady.”

Emma Drogunova (Germany)

Emma Drogunova was born in Russia and raised in Berlin. She acted on stage before winning her first TV role in the acclaimed German mini-series Adlon – A Family Saga. In 2013, she won an award for Best Actress at the Filmfestival Cinemaiubit, Bucharest, for her role in the short Nicht den Boden berühren. Drogunova debuted on the big screen in Kalinka, followed by A Jar Full of Life and the best-seller adaptation The Tobacconist. She played the lead in the lauded Blind Spot by Stephan Lacant, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Emmy Awards.

Films / TV Series:

The Tobacconist (Der Trafikant), 2018
by Nikolaus Leytner (Austria, Germany)

A Jar Full of Life (Vielmachglas), 2018
by Florian Ross (Germany)

Blind Spot (Toter Winkel), 2017
by Stephan Lacant (Germany)

Jury’s comment: “With an impulsive and fiery screen personality, Emma Drogunova owns each one of her acting choices and is able to show seduction, cruelty, provocation and danger all at once in her multi-layered performances. She is an energetic, captivating, multifaceted and vibrant discovery with an impressive acting range, that also conveys a wonderful warmth and love for life last seen in The Tobacconist.”

Elliott Crosset Hove (Denmark)

Elliott Crosset Hove, the son of Danish actor Anders Hove and American dancer Ann Crosset, was raised in the U.S. and Denmark and graduated from The Danish National School of Performance Arts. He has been cast in Danish feature films, TV series and theatre, and, most significantly, in 2017, in the lead role in Winter Brothers. For this role, he won ´Best Actor´ at Locarno Film Festival, Vilnius International Film Festival and at The Danish Academy Awards, Robert. Most recently, he has been cast in Wildland and in The Purity of Vengeance.

Films / TV Series:

Wildland (Kød og Blod), 2019 (in production)
by Jeanette Nordahl (Denmark)

The Purity of Vengeance (Journal 64), 2018
by Christoffer Boe (Denmark, Germany)

Winter Brothers (Vinter Brødre), 2017
by Hlynur Pálmason (Denmark, Iceland)

Jury’s comment: “Elliott Crossett Hove possesses incredible charisma, understands the natural rhythm of a scene and becomes one not only with his character but also his co-stars. The jury was blown away by his strong presence, deep intuition, effortlessness, responsiveness and raw ability to shift from transparent vulnerability to intimidation, but most importantly, by his clear sense of what it means to be in the moment.”

Dawid Ogrodnik (Poland)

Dawid Ogrodnik is a graduate of the State Theatre School in Kracow. He has been in many critically acclaimed films, and received prizes for his work in a number of them, including acting honours in Leszek Dawid’s Jestes Bogiem; Maciej Pieprzyca’s Life Feels Good – which won him awards around the globe; and Anna Kazejak’s Promise. He was also cast in the Oscar-winning Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski. Most recently, Ogrodnik is at work on three films in Poland. He has been collaborating with the Rozmaitosci Theatre in Warsaw since 2013.

Films / TV Series:

Silent Night (Cicha noc), 2017
by Piotr Domalewski (Poland)

The Last Family (Ostatnia Rodzina), 2016
by Jan P. Matuszynski (Poland)

Life Feels Good (Chce Sie Zyc), 2013
by Maciej Pieprzyca (Poland)

Jury’s comment: “An extremely versatile and dedicated actor, Dawid Ogrodnik has won the jury over with his sensitive face that records many a deep emotion in each one of his performances. A fresh talent, who we feel lives and breathes his characters to get into a role, he is a young acting force to be reckoned with. His raw talent is enthralling to watch.”

Blagoj Veselinov (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRoM))

Blagoj Veselinov graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Skopje. He’s been cast in more than 50 theatre plays, and in 15 feature film roles, beginning with his feature debut in As if I am not there. He is best known for his lead role in Gjorche Stavreski’s acclaimed debut film Secret Ingredient (2017). Most recently, Veselinov can be seen in Grandfather and Grandson by Ilija Piperkovski and in Andrej Kosak’s Vsi protiv Vsem (2018). He is also currently on stage with the ensemble of the Macedonian National Theatre.

Films / TV Series:

Secret Ingredient (Исцелител), 2017
by Gjorce Stavreski (FYR of Macedonia, Greece)

The Liberation of Skopje (Ослободување на Скопје), 2016
by Danilo Sherbedzija,Rade Sherbedzija (FYR of Macedonia, Croatia, Finland)

Shoes (Чевли), 2016
by Branko Kosteski (FYR of Macedonia)

Jury’s comment: “Blagoj Veselinov has utterly impressed the jury with his performance in Gjorce Stavreski’s Secret Ingredient, which is imbued with deep and unexpected sensitivity. Veselinov’s turn here is cleverly and commandingly toned down and subtle, showing his heartfelt bond with his character. We look forward to seeing what he does next!”