Each year we are proud to partner with the European Film Promotion to celebrate ten emerging European talents as part of their ongoing EFP Shooting Stars programme. Today we’re pleased to join the reveal of 2023’s cohort, who we’ll be getting to know better next year at the 73rd Berlinale.
Here are 2023’s European Shooting Stars:
Joely Mbundu (Belgium), Alina Tomnikov (Finland), Leonie Benesch (Germany), Thorvaldur Kristjansson (Iceland), Benedetta Porcaroli (Italy), Yannick Jozefzoon (The Netherlands), Kristine Kujath Thorp (Norway), Judith State (Romania), Gizem Erdogan (Sweden) and Kayije Kagame (Switzerland).
We’ll be meeting with each of the Shooting Stars out in Berlin next February and speaking to them. So, remember to check back next year for those interviews.
In the meantime, here are more details about each of the intake from the EFP themselves.
Belgium / Joely Mbundu
Joely Mbundu hails from Villeneuve-St-Georges, France and attended school in Flanders, Belgium. She has been involved in various forms of dance – including classic, hip hop and jazz- for many years. Mbundu began her acting career with a bang, in the critically acclaimed role of Lokita in the most recent film by the Dardenne brothers, Tori and Lokita. The film premiered in Competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win a special prize in honour of Cannes’ 75th Anniversary. From there, it has garnered awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival, San Sebastián Film Festival and the Seville European Film Festival, where it was honoured with the Grand Audience Award.
Finland /Alina Tomnikov
One of Finland’s most impressive rising stars, Alina Tomnikov graduated with a Master of Arts from the Theatre Academy of Helsinki in 2013 and soon began working on-screen as well as on stage. Her early on-screen work includes Dome Karukoski’s feature The Grump, Hannu Salonen’s Arctic Circle and Teemu Nikki’s feature Euthanizer. Tomnikov played the lead in Heikki Kujanpää’s television series Blind Donna, which won the Diversity & Inclusion Award at MipCom in Cannes. Her on-stage work includes Mika Myllyaho’s Hangmen and Minna Leino’s In the Republic of Happiness at the Finnish National Theatre.
Tomnikov’s most recent on-screen workincludes the lead in Mari Mantela’s short film Rabobesto which won the highly acclaimed Risto Jarva Award as well as the Main Prize at Helsinki International Film Festival. The film is based on Tomnikov’s original idea. She can also be seen playing the lead role of ‘TuuliKovero’ in the Sky Original television series Funeral For A Dog, an eight-part series based on Thomas Pletzinger’s acclaimed novel of the same name. Earlier this year, she finished shooting a key role in the second season of Marja Pyykkö’s The Paradise as well as the lead in Pamela Tola’s dramedy, The Worst Idea Ever, which is due for its release in early 2023.
Germany / Leonie Benesch
German actress Leonie Benesch saw a stand-out year in 2021 leading BBC/PBS’s Around The World In 80 Days in the role of Abigail Fix alongside David Tennant. She will next be seen starring in several highly anticipated projects: the film The Teachers’ Lounge by Ilker Çatak and Frank Schätzing’s Sci-Fi thriller series The Swarm, a TV adaptation of the bestselling novel. Benesch formally trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She received widespread critical acclaim for her portrayal of Greta in the hit German show Babylon Berlin by Tom Tykwer, Henk Handloegten and Achim von Borries, for which she won the German Acting Award.
Her breakout role in Michael Haneke’s Golden Globe and Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon was praised by critics as “a discovery” and her performance earned her the American Young Artist Award and the Bunte New Faces Award. Her television credits include Princess Cecile in Netflix’s The Crown directed by Stephen Daldry, the series Spy City opposite Dominic Cooper and the mini-series Turncoat by Florian Gallenberger. Her film credits include Persian Lessons by Vadim Perelman, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2020, 8 Seconds by Ömer Faruk Sorak and Philip Koch’s Picco.
Iceland / Thorvaldur Kristjansson
Thorvaldur Kristjansson has a BFA degree in drama from The Juilliard School in New York, which was funded by scholarships and through the personal assistance of Academy Award winner and former Juilliard alumnus, Robin Williams. Since graduating, he has been very active in his work life and was nominated as Best Leading Actor at The Icelandic Film and TV Academy Awards (Eddan) for his first feature film, Black’s Game, and then won the prize in 2020 as Best Supporting Actor in a TV series for The Minister.
Films such as I Remember You and Life in a Fishbowl were blockbuster hits in Iceland and a number of his films have screened in major international festivals. Kristjansson has also done voice-over work for animated films, including one of the leading roles in the short Yes-People, which was nominated for an Academy Award at the 2021 Oscars.
Kristjansson has a notable on-stage career, having performed in Iceland’s most renowned theatres, including The Icelandic National Theatre and Reykjavik City Theatre. He was nominated as Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Icelandic National Theatre Awards (Gríman) for his work in the play Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. His latest film, the critically acclaimed A Letter from Helga, was released in 2022 and went straight to the top of the Icelandic box office list during its first weekend.
Italy / Benedetta Porcaroli
In 2015, Benedetta Porcaroli made her acting debut in Tuttopuòsuccedere – an Italian remake of Parenthood, which ran for 3 seasons on Rai1. Immediately after, she graduated to the big screen as the rebellious daughter in Perfect Strangers by Paolo Genovese. Next up was a leading role in the Netflix series Baby, as well as in the feature All my Nights, presented at the Rome Film Festival. For this role, she won the Guglielmo Biraghi Young Revelation of the Year Award at the NastriD’Argento 2019. She was also chosen to co-present the Best Screenplay Award at the European Film Awards.
Porcaroli then took on the leading roles in several films: the critically acclaimed international hit, 18 Presents; The Catholic School, presented at the Venice Film Festival; and 7 Women and a Murder. In 2022, she was cast in the lead role in The Shadow of the Day as well as in Amanda, the debut film by Carolina Cavalli, the only Italian film presented both at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals that year. She was then cast in The Hummingbird by Francesca Archibugi, which premiered in Toronto and went on to open the Rome Film Festival. She has recently finished shooting both Paolo Zucca’s Vangelo secondo Maria and Pietro Castelitto’s Enea.
The Netherlands / Yannick Jozefzoon
Yannick Jozefzoon grew up in the Netherlands with his Dutch mother and Sierra Leonean father. He began acting in 2002 with the theatre group DNA and appeared in several youth film and television productions. In 2015, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Maastricht where he trained as an actor. In theatre, he played at Het Nationale Theater, Fabuleus, Theater Oostpool and Likeminds and starred in three solo performances in the Netherlands and Belgium. In 2018, he was nominated for his first Golden Calf Award (Dutch Academy for Film) for the film Tom Adelaar directed by Gonzalo Fernandez.
He was then cast in featured roles in the series Amsterdam Vice,Hollands Hoop,Déjà Vu and Bonnie & Clyde. In 2022, he had the lead in three feature films: Sputum by Dan Geesin, Piece of My Heart by Dana Nechushtan and FEMI by Dwight Fagbamila, for which Jozefzoon received his 2nd Dutch Academy Award nomination as Best Leading Actor. He also was cast as the lead in the Dutch Videoland film Black Girl Magic and the Belgian TV series Geldwolven for Streamz. Next up, in 2023, he plays the lead role in the major primetime NPO1 series DE LIFE.
Norway / Kristine Kujath Thorp
Kristine Kujath Thorp is a Norwegian-born actress who currently lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is best known for her work in films and TV series such as Fanny, Under bølgerne, over skyer, Betrayed, My Different Ways and The Burning Sea. For her work in The Burning Sea, she received a Best Actress nomination at the 2022 Amanda Awards. In 2021, Thorp starred in the award-winning Norwegian dramedy, Ninjababy for which she won an Amanda Award as Best Actress. Ninjababy won the SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Global and the award for Best Comedy at the European Film Festival, 2021.
Its success both in Norway and internationally brought Thorp to the attention of audiences worldwide for her portrayal of the lead character, Rakel. In 2022, Thorp was cast in leading roles in Kristoffer Borgli’s Norwegian feature, Sick of Myself, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and in the Danish film, The Great Silence, directed by Katrine Brocks, which premiered at San Sebastián International Film Festival and will hit the cinemas in early 2023. Thorp recently finished shooting Nikolaj Arcel’s new epic historical drama The Bastard.
Romania /Judith State
Judith State is a professional dancer with classical ballet training and a degree in foreign languages in both English and Spanish. She won a scholarship to train at Broadway Dance Centre in New York as well as a WEBdance scholarship for ImpulsTanz Vienna. In 2016, State was cast in a leading role in Sieranevada by acclaimed director CristiPuiu, marking her debut in cinema and beginning a new stage in her life. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won her a Gopo Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2018 she again collaborated with CristiPuiu for Malmkrog and was also cast in the leading role in Marius Olteanu’s debut film, Monsters, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, and for which she was awarded a GopoAward as Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 2020, she played the lead in Daniel Sandu’s The Father Who Moves Mountains and in Liviu Marghidan’sRefuge, quickly followed in 2021 by Hungarian director Gyuri Kristoff’s dance feature, Zenith. Next came the lead in renowned director Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N., which premiered at Cannes in 2022. State is currently working as both performer/choreographer and actress, combining these fields with her passion for music and singing.
Sweden / Gizem Erdogan
From her first feature film back in 2014, to her major breakthrough in the massive hit series Caliphate in 2020, Gizem Erdogan has become one of Sweden’s foremost actresses. She has no less than three separate wins for Best Actress, and is fluent in Swedish, English, Spanish and Turkish. After graduating from The Swedish Academic School of Drama, she starred in the feature, Dream On for which she received a nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the Guldbaggen, the Swedish Academy Awards.
The acclaimed TV series Caliphate was released worldwide on Netflix in 2020, and Erdogan won another award for her stunning performance as Pervin – the lead character in the series who moved with her husband to Raqqa to join ISIS. She has since broadened her slate, for example with roles in Netflix’s romantic dramedy Love and Anarchy; as a police officer in Thin Blue Line; and as a star lawyer in The Playlist about the making of Spotify. She is also a member of the Ensemble of the Gothenburg State Theatre.
Switzerland / Kayije Kagame
Kayije Kagame was born in Geneva and studied at ENSATT (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre) in Lyon. She took part in Robert Wilson’s Watermill International Summer Residency Program in the Hamptons in New York and was also artist in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. The creator of numerous performances, sound pieces, films, and installation, Kagame is currently touring with Intérieur Vie / Intérieur Nuit (Inner Life / Inner Night)which she co-directed together with Hugo Radi.
The role of Rama in Saint Omer by Alice Diop marks her feature film debut. Saint Omer premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won multiple awards, including the prestigious Silver Lion. The film was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been invited to numerous festivals worldwide. Among other prestigious awards, Saint Omer also won le Prix Louis-Delluc and le Prix Jean Vigo as well as being the French entry for the International Feature Film Competition at the 95th Academy Awards and part of the film selection for the European Film Awards 2022. Kagame was selected as “Revelation” by the French Film Academy (Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma) for Les César 2023.