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This Year's European Shooting Stars
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Riz Ahmed, U.K.
Many of us have seen his debut performance in the film Road to Guantanamo by Mat Whitecross and Micheal Winterbottom. I had the luck to see his second performance in Sally Potter’s film Rage. He is now working on his international repertoire after having now completed Black Gold by French film director Jean-Jacques Annand and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by American director Mira Nair. From the films that I have seen, he has a very strong presence and is able to combine contrasting emotions to define the character.

Jakub Gierszal, Poland
He actually spent his childhood right here in Hamburg and became interested in acting at the age of 23. He has been in three Polish films, one of which I saw at the Berlinale last year: Suicide Room by director Jan Komasa. This year he was in Lasting Moments by film director Jacek Borcuch which was a Spanish /Polish production and is by the same director who made Gierszal’s first film: All that I Love. The jury commented on his skills by saying he was clearly born to be on the big screen. Since he speaks four languages, I think it will be only a matter of time before we will see him.

Hilmar Gudjonsson, Iceland
His first film debut was in 2006 where he had a supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s film Flags of Our Fathers. In 2010 he was hired by the Reykjavik City Theater where he did Shakespearian Theater. He had a small roll in Mr. Bjarnfredarson by one of my favorite Icelandic director Ragnar Bragasons. He gave an outstanding performance in the prize-winning comedy Either Way by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson.

Antonia Campbell Hughes, Ireland
Starring in Bright Star by Jane Campion back in 2009 was a wonderful start for her career. She had success with the Lotus Easter by Alexandre McGuinness and The Other Side of Sleep by Rebecca Daly. Her up-coming role will be playing the part of Natascha Kampusch which doesn’t surprise me since she is tall and very thin and able to convey a lot of emotion with very little expression. I can imagine that she will do a fantastic job.

Adele Haenel, France
Here first debut was back in 2002 with the film The Devils by Christophe Ruggia. Five years later she received a Cesar nomination for Best Female Hope for the film Water Lilies by Celine Sciamma. She then made four films in a row and three of them were chosen for the Cannes film festival last year: Heat Wave by Jean-Jacques Jauffret, Iris in Bloom by Bertrand and Valerie Mrejen, and House of Tolerance by Bertrand Bonello.

Max Hubacker, Switzerland
He is a new comer to the film industry but has been interested in acting since he was seven years old. His debut film was Stationpiraten by Micheal Shaerer which was followed by Foster Boy directed by Markus Imboden and his third performance in Night Train to Lisbon by Billie August will be completed by 2013. He is quite young compared to the others but I am sure we will be seeing more of him in the future.

Anna Maria Mühe, Germany
Perhaps you seen her on one of the T.V. criminal stories like Tote in der Mauer but she actually made her film debut when she was 26 years old in the film Big Girls Don’t Cry by Mariaron Heland. She won Best Actress in Copenhagen for her role in Love in Thoughts by Achim von Borries. Some of her other films have been 11/2 Knights by Til Schweiger and The Contess by Julie Delpy. She received a German Film Award for November Child by Christian Schwochon which was very emotional and mysterious. Since she lives here in Germany, keep your eyes open and you may even see her in Hamburg. I certainly have seen her at the Hamburg Film Festival at the opening of one of her films and was surprised that she is about as tall as I am, but much shorter compared to the other shooting stars.

Isabella Ragonese, Italy
At 30 she made her acting debut in The Golden Door in 2006. Since then her career has risen to incredible heights so much that she reminds me of Meryl Streep. She had the leading roles in Her Whole Life Ahead by Paolo Virzi where she was nominated for the Nastro d’argenti awards. The Nastro d’agenti is the oldest movie award in Europe. She won this award twice for the film One Life Made Two by director Alessandro Aronadio and Our life by director Daniele Luchetti.

Bill Skarsgard, Sweden
He was once a child actor but has made a smooth transition into the adult roles, which few child actors achieve. He had supporting roles in Kenny Begins by Carl Astrand and Mats Lindberg as well as Simple Simon by Andreas Öhman. Simple Simon was Sweden’s chosen film to be sent to the Oscar nominations that year. Last year he was in two films the Crown Jewels by Ella Lemhagen and Simon and the Oaks by Lisa Ohlin, and the third film Anna Karenina by Joe Wright which is not yet completed. The jury commented that his acting feels like an exploration that we are lucky enough to witness.

Ana Ularu, Romania
She is a child actress who has now made it on to the international scene. She is the only one who speaks five languages and that has given her the advantage of landing jobs like the film Youth without Youth by Francis Ford Coppola. She has done the German Romanian film Turkey Girl by Cristian Mingui and Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood by Daniele Vicari which was an Italian/French/ Romanian Film. She is currently working on A Very Unsettled Summer by Anca Damian. She is described as steely yet vulnerable which seems so appropriate since she often deals with very difficult subject matter.