KATHRINE WINDFELD - DENMARK
Work to date: As well as directing episodes of virtually every major Danish TV series, Windfeld has also directed the award-winning short films You Can’t Eat Fishing and Little Man.
Coming up: Windfeld is making her big-screen debut with political drama The Escape, in which a Danish journalist is taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The film, which is being released in Denmark this month, stars Iben Hjejle, whose credits include Mifune and High Fidelity. It is written by Mette Heeno and Rasmus Heisterberg and is produced by Nimbus Film Production.
The expert opinion: Morten Kaufmann, producer of The Escape, says: “Kathrine is capable of giving her close collaborators free space for creative input. She can get the best out of every human being around her and still remain captain of the ship. From a producer’s point of view it’s also a blessing that she is good at improvising and she is the opposite of the director type always complaining.”
Contact number: Kathrine Windfeld (45) 2041 0751
JEAN-BAPTISTE LEONETTI - FRANCE
Work to date: Leonetti wrote and directed the 2003 short Le Pays Des Ours, which took five prizes at the Lutins de Court Metrage awards in 2004.
Coming up: Leonetti is now in post-production on his first feature, Carre Blanc, a futuristic drama starring Julie Gayet, Carlos Leal and Sami Bouajila, set in a world where those who cannot take care of themselves are killed for their meat. The film, which Leonetti also wrote, reunites him with Le Pays Des Ours cinematographer David Nissen. It is being touted as a possible entry for Cannes.
The expert opinion: Pape Boye, co-founder of Paris sales outfit Coach 14, which is handling Carre Blanc, says: “The response we have had on (Leonetti) from buyers and US agents is impressive. They’ve only seen a three-minute promo but everyone has been left with their jaws hanging. He works within such a specific and cold universe that it doesn’t leave people indifferent. I would not be surprised if he does a genre or sci-fi film for an American studio in the next couple of years.”
Contact: Intertalent, agent (33) 1 47 23 40 00
EDUARDO CHAPERO-JACKSON - SPAIN
Work to date: Chapero-Jackson has written and directed three impressive short films. Contracuerpo dealt with the issue of anorexia through the eyes of a young girl and picked up a Goya nomination for best short in 2005. He followed this with Alumbramiento in 2007, a dark but human film about a dying woman, which picked up five awards, including best short at the 2007 European Film Awards. And in 2008, he made a modern-day western The End.
Coming up: Chapero-Jackson will shoot his debut feature this year, the $25.7m (EUR20m) historical adventure Verbo, which will be produced by Enrique Lopez Lavigne.
The expert opinion: Pepe Jordana, head of Prosopopeya Producciones and the producer of all of Chapero-Jackson’s shorts, says: “His films, aside from using little dialogue, portray very human subjects and feelings, which would appeal all over the world.”
Contact: Prosopopeya Producciones, (34) 91 308 2810
RAZVAN RADULESCU - ROMANIA
Work to date: As a script writer, Radulescu is at the heart of the Romanian new wave. He wrote the script for 2005 Un Certain Regard winner The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, and consulted on 2007 Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days.
Coming up: Radulescu is set to emerge as a director in his own right, with his first feature First Of All Felicia, co-directed with his writing partner Melissa de Raaf. A contemporary drama with the hallmarks of his previous work, First Of All Felicia is generating early buzz in the Romanian film industry, and is likely to secure a spot at a major festival in 2009. Starring Ozana Oancea and produced by Romania’s Hifilm Production, the project was selected for the Cannes Atelier of the Cinefoundation in 2008.
The expert opinion: “Radulescu has had a major role in changing for the better the recent face of Romanian film,” says director Cristian Mungiu, who worked with Radulescu on 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. “As a writer, he doesn’t need any more confirmation. His directorial debut is awaited with lots of curiosity: his challenge is to manage to transmit through film-making the same attention to detail, natural sense of dialogue, the right flow of time and pace of events one feels when reading his scripts.”
Contact: Razvan Radulescu, (40) 721 208 049
MITJA OKORN - SLOVENIAWork to date: Okorn has attended the Berlinale Talent Campus twice and was nominated for the British Council’s International Young Film Entrepreneur of the Year (Iyfey) award in 2007. His first short, Be Flexible, won the best short film prize at the Motovun International Film Festival in 2002. His first feature, Here And There, a no-budget gangster story, was the top-grossing Slovenian film of 2005 and one of the highest-grossing Slovenian films ever.
Coming up: Okorn is directing crime drama The Erased, set during the fall of communism in Yugoslavia, and due to start filming in September. Produced by Okorn’s Influenz Pictures, the film stars Montenegro’s Ivan Bezmaric and the UK’s Paul Kaye.
The expert opinion: UK producer and Iyfey judge Duncan Kenworthy describes Okorn as “a kind of Slovenian Danny Boyle” and likens Here And There to Trainspotting, with its “great narrative energy and constant invention”. He says: “I can easily see Mitja having a career in the UK, or a career in Slovenia and an audience (in the UK). He’s got all the skills, speaks perfect English, knows how to deliver impact on a budget, and best of all, he’s available - for now!”
Contact: Mitja Okorn (386) 41 968 244 (Slovenia), (48) 502 926 360 (Poland)
DAVIDE MARENGO - ITALY
Work to date: Marengo made his debut feature, Night Bus, starring Valerio Mastandrea and Giovanna Mezzogiorno in 2007 following his 2005 documentary Craj. Night Bus sold to eight territories, including China, and grossed a respectable $1.6m (EUR1.2m) in Italy.
Coming up: As well as directing 12 episodes of the anticipated Italian TV series Il Commissario Manara, Marengo is working on an as-yet-untitled thriller to be produced by Rai Cinema towards the end of 2009.
The expert opinion: Caterina D’Amico of Italy’s Rai Cinema says: “Night Bus showed his command of the cinema machine, the actors and the (film’s) complicated rhythms. He employs elements we don’t traditionally see. We are looking for directors, like Marengo, who can handle a thriller with irony, grace and emotion.”
Contact: Sosia & Pistoia, agent (39) 06 321 9252
VALERIO MIELI - ITALY
Work to date: Centro Sperimentale film school director Marcello Foti was so impressed by his student Valerio Mieli’s short film Ten Winters (Dieci Inverni) that he set about turning it into a full-length feature. The result is the first Italian-Russian co-production since the two countries signed a co-production agreement in 2005. Mieli’s film is set to start shooting this month on location in Venice and Russia on a budget of around $2.7m (EUR2m). A comedy spanning 10 winters in the lives of two friends, Mieli has attracted big Italian names to the cast, including Alba Rohrwacher (Days And Clouds) and Michele Riondino (Fortapasc).
The expert opinion: “We wanted to do this feature film because we really believe in him (Mieli). He knows how to tell good stories and we saw there were the conditions to make this into a bigger project,” says Foti. Rai Cinema’s Caterina D’Amico adds: “The project came out with promise and we saw him work for three years with focus and sensitivity.”
Contact: Punto e Virgola, PR company (39) 06 3938 8909
NEELE LEANA VOLLMAR - GERMANY
Work to date: Vollmar’s short film My Parents received several awards in Germany and abroad. Her first feature was the 2004 Vacation From Life, produced by her film school, the Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg in Ludwigsburg, and released in 2006 starring Gustav-Peter Wohler, Meret Becker and Lars Rudolf. She made the 2008 film Peaceful Times through her own production company, Royal Pony Film, which she set up with fellow Ludwigsburg graduate Caroline Daube in 2005.
Coming up: Vollmar has two projects on the go: culture-clash comedy Maria, He Doesn’t Like It based on the bestselling novel by Jan Weiler, for local production company Claussen Woebke Putz; and Melimelo, a collaboration with Peaceful Times screenwriter Ruth Toma, to be made by Vollmar’s own Royal Pony Film.
The expert opinion: Jakob Claussen, who is producing Maria, He Doesn’t Like It, was impressed by Vollmar’s commitment to the project which went as far as taking a crash course in Italian so that she could give directions to her actors, including the legendary Lino Banfi, in their native tongue.
Contact: Above The Line, agent (49) 89 59 90 84 51
THE ACTORSJUNIO VALVERDE - SPAIN
Work to date: He may be only 18 years old, but Junio Valverde has been performing in local films and TV programmes since he was 10. After a small part in Guillermo del Toro’s Franco-era drama The Devil’s Backbone, he landed his first lead role in Santiago Tabernero’s Vida Y Color in 2005, which he followed with a part in Isidro Ortiz’s horror Shiver. This helped to secure his latest role as a troubled teen in Nacho G Velilla’s 2008 comedy Chef’s Special, which has made $6.5m (EUR5.1m) in Spain, and is being released this summer in the US by TLA. Valverde studied acting in Canada so speaks good English.
Coming up: Riding high on the success of Chef’s Special, Valverde is on the look-out for a major international film project. In the meantime, he has a role in Spanish TV crime series Unidad Central Operativa, which is about to start filming.
The expert opinion: “Junio eats the screen up with his performances, thanks to his multi-layered depths and big eyes. The young audience loves him,” says Beatriz Setuain, head of sales at Imagina, which is handling international rights to Chef’s Special.
Contact: Delphoss Talent Agency (34)607508187
MARTIN RIVAS - SPAIN
Work to date: Galician-born Rivas has taken the familiar path of making a name for himself on local television before moving into film. After small roles in several TV series and a part in Susana Perez’s short film Atopeite, Rivas became familiar to Spanish audiences playing a student, Marcos Novoa Pazos, in the popular ongoing teen serial El Internado. This led to a role in Jose Luis Cuerda’s Franco-era drama The Blind Sunflowers as a republican forced to flee his family home to Portugal. That film is Spain’s entry for the Oscars and received 15 Goya nominations.
Coming up: Rivas has been cast as the lead in respected Galician director Xavier Villaverde’s romantic drama Sex Of Angels, which is in pre-production.
The expert opinion: According to The Blind Sunflowers director Jose Luis Cuerda, “It was his strong performance in El Internado that drew us to cast him in The Blind Sunflowers. He is a very promising young actor.” Gorka Bilbao, head of sales at Sogepaq, which is selling The Blind Sunflowers says, “Rivas has an appealing, handsome face and a strong character. He has the potential to go far with the right director.”
Contact: Paloma Juanes, agent (91) 542 33 14
VALENTINA LODOVINI - ITALY
Work to date: A graduate of Rome’s Centro Sperimentale film school where students are required to speak English, Lodovini’s credits include Italian director Anna Negri’s 2008 comedy Good Morning Heartache and Daniele Vicari’s 2008 drama The Past Is A Foreign Land. She received a best actress nomination at Italy’s 2008 David di Donatello awards for Carlo Mazzacurati’s The Right Distance.
Coming up: Lodovini stars in Marco Risi’s Fortapasc, as the girlfriend of real-life character Giancarlo Siani, a crime journalist who was killed by the Carmorra in 1985. The film is now in post. She has also just finished filming Massimo Vernier’s Generazione Mille Euro, about young professionals struggling to survive on low salaries. The film is being produced by Andrea and Raffaella Leone for Andrea Leone Films with Rai Cinema.
The expert opinion: The director of Centro Sperimentale film school Marcello Foti, says Lodovini’s expressive, Mediterranean looks influence her on-screen presence. “She’s suited for roles that need aggression, strength and character,” he suggests. Film-maker Marco Risi noted the same quality in her performance in The Right Distance, and subsequently cast her in Fortapasc. He describes her as “sensitive, attentive and smart”.
Contact: Alessandra Lateana, agent (39) 0698182392
TAHAR RAHIM - FRANCE
Work to date: Rahim had a small role in Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s A L’Interieur in 2007 and went on to co-star in the lauded Canal Plus TV series La Commune, which was written by one of 2007’s European Stars of Tomorrow, Abdel Raouf Dafri.
Coming up: Rahim takes the lead role in Jacques Audiard’s hotly anticipated Un Prophete, which was also written by Dafri. The film, about the rise of a young North African man, who becomes the godfather of France’s disaffected suburbs with the help of the Corsican Mafia and an influential imam, will be released by UGC in France in August.
The expert opinion: Dafri says: “Tahar has a way of acting that is at once introverted and which also gives the impression that if he does let go, it will be with a formidable and devastating energy. In certain ways, he makes me think of Al Pacino in The Godfather with his look that doesn’t fixate on anything in particular because his brain is working too fast.”
Contact: Agence Aura, agent (33) 1 53 10 19 50
ANJORKA STRECHEL - GERMANY
Work to date: After graduating from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Hamburg in 2005, Strechel appeared in two TV films by Hannu Salonen and Michael Gutmann before being cast in Nana Neul’s feature debut To Faro in 2008 as a young woman with boyish looks and build whose short hair and baggy clothes hide her femininity.
Coming up: Strechel is starring in Russian director Alexei Uchitel’s $12.8m (EUR10m) post-war drama Gustav, which is now in post production. Strechel was discovered by Uchitel and his producer Kira Saksaganskaya as they were leafing through the festival catalogue in Karlovy Vary last July and came across her photograph.
The expert opinion: “Anjorka Strechel possesses a unique screen presence,” says Xavier Chotard, managing director of distributor Alpenrepublik, which released To Faro in Germany last autumn. “Her versatility is incredible. In To Faro, she really manages to give us the impression she could be a boy.”
Contact: HR2 Management, agent (49) 331 748 10 10.