BERLINALE SPECIAL Day 3: EFP Shooting stars in focus!

Yesterday was a quite busy day for cineasts and cinephiles in Berlin, with 4 new competition feature films getting their world premieres. Still, it somehow felt like it wasn’t a nurture full selection, at least when it comes to the “big names”. Rithy Panh with his latest film Everything Will Be OK came to a point of the essay for the sake of it, repeating himself and his previous works, maybe a bit more out of focus than usual. The second film of the day was the latest Claire Denis feature Both Sides of the Blade, which missed quite a few notes along the way. Focusing on cis, straight white male protagonist Jean (played by Vincent Lindon) surrounded by progressive left/liberal podcast creator lover Sara (the role went to as always amazing Juliette Binoche) and the son Marcus (starring talented young Issa Perica) that has a bit darker skin tone, the film deals with the subtle art of „letting go“ that the film’s protagonist just doesn’t get (not even by the end). With a focus on long, genuine dialogues, film slacks on emotions and narration ending up to be just one long verbal dominant while males fight about everything and nothing in particular. Besides the two „big names“ competition programmes screened also Nana by  Kamila Andini and Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush by Andreas Dresen.

What truly was worth the attention on day 3 of the Berlinale was the EFP Shooting Stars programme that presented 10 young European actresses and actors that had their breakthrough roles in film/tv in the past year. Duart got the chance to meet them a bit better and for this festival Daily, we are bringing you the short interviews/ thoughts from Timon Sturbej (Slovenia), Gracija Filipović (Croatia) and Marie Reuther (Denmark). 

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Marie Reuther

Kamikaze (HBO, 2021)

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So Marie can you tell us a bit more about your role in “Kamikaze”. As the series follows a difficult story about grief, suicide, re-discovery? In a way a rebirth? So how hard was it for you to get into this role?

When I began my preparation for Kamikaze, I didn’t know how to prepare in the beginning because I was just so new to filmmaking. So I just began by reading the book that the series is based on, it’s written by an original writer called Alan Lowe, It’s written in a diary form so it was a really good way of getting into the character’s mindset. So I just read it many times and took a lot of notes. I also read the script many times. And I also did a lot of research about people in trauma, I spoke to a psychiatrist about how people come up to this state. And yeah, you know, and I spoke to the director, about like, what kind of vibe are we interested in? What are we doing? And I just went from there. 

Yeah, that’s an interesting answer. Because in your bio, it says that you finished the Danish National School of Performing arts. So the schools don’t prepare students always for the role? 

True, you learn different techniques for acting, and you do exercises and you walk around in your sweatpants saying things and doing things with your body, but how to prepare for a role is something you have to figure out yourself, what works for you. And that was it and I still don’t know, what really works for me, I just tried to figure out like, each time is different, like, what do you do now? 

For example, the moment of cutting the hair was an interesting situation. I knew that I had to do that for a long time. So when I finally chopped off the hair, it was just kind of a relief and also liberating. And I think it just did something really good for the TV show and for the character because I think my character gets rougher but also pure in a sense. Her vibe gets to that “no bullshit” point that works great. Kind of. I mean, I think it suits the show. Because my character changes and I think it’s a nice way of expressing that. And so now I’ve tried it like, I would never do it if it wasn´t for the role.

As we have such a short time for this interview can you just, for the end, tell us how you see the state of the film industry today as a young actress? Is it easy to get roles? Are there enough movies, and TV series? Also, what would you like to work on in the next 5-10 years?

I don’t know, there are always too many actors. All over the world. There are too many actors when it comes compared to jobs. And I don’t say this in a bad way. Like, it’s just a fact, I think. But on the other hand, I think just like there are many people there are also so many TV series at the moment and films because the big broadcasters have their own competition for the audiences. So it sort of boosts everything, and you know, this situation of more content means that some of this will be better uplifting content. This means more jobs for all of us, which is a good thing. But I think as an actress, it’s like, you’re not really in charge of what will happen to you. Because you can do a lot of hard work. But you also need a bit of luck, and to be at the right time, or the right person who has the right project. And like, I always see, you know, getting jobs as sort of date. Okay, do you fall in love? Or do you not fall in love? And in this, the casting director, and the director has to fall in love with the actor. Somehow, they just have to know. That’s the energy. 

It’s, it’s really hard to say what would I like to work on in the next 5-10 years. I hope that I will continue to enjoy the work and I hope that I will get nicer roles, like cool opportunities and complex female characters. I think Kamikaze it’s just such a wonderful project in such a rare female role also for a young woman. So I want something that can live up to this, but something that’s different. Yeah. 

So I don’t know. I think I really dream of doing a feature film because I haven’t tried that yet. But until then I’m really looking forward to a bit more condensed smaller projects that would give me a bit more time to get in detail with the roles.

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Timon Šturbej

Riders (Antitalent produkcija, 2022)

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So Timon can you tell us a bit about how you see the state of the film and theatre industry in Slovenia as there have been quite a little good news about it in the past year?

Well, the thing is, the whole pandemic has hit both theatre and the film industry hard. Luckily, the theatres are open right now. But the spectators are still cut. I mean, I think we have around 70% of the capacity right now. And with the film, there was, yeah, this whole deal with the government when they didn’t pay a lot of people, the funds for almost a year. So a lot of people had, sadly had to find other work, some stuff doing the film, and other careers. 

That is such a sad situation, because I remember right before the pandemic, there were some great movies from Slovenia like “Oroslan”, “Ne bom več luzerka”, “Zgodbe iz kostanjev gozdov”…

Yeah. Well, the issue is not only those funds that were not paid out. But also, you know, the state of cinema right now. Or, at least at that time, because cinemas were closed. Now when they are opening up a bit still, there is a lot fewer people coming to the cinema. And also the spectator capacities are cut down. So money-wise, it all adds up to a bad profit. We don’t have a lot of people in our country, not so a lot of inhabitance as it is. So now with all those regulations, it’s even worse. So it is sadly a bad situation when it comes to profits but we are still putting in a strong fight. I’m glad that I had a chance to do “The Riders” and that film had a chance to go international and push me up with it.

This is probably a great point to ask, as we are coming close to this short interview, how is it for you as an actor when it comes to the opportunities in Slovenia are thinking about leaving the region and trying to go international?

I would love to go international but I wouldn’t leave the country. I like Slovenia, still, I’m hoping to find some work abroad. Yeah. I feel that “Shooting Stars” will help me with the much-needed boost towards this.

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Gracija Filipović

Murina (Antitalent produkcija, 2021)

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Hey Gracija, I would like to start the conversation by getting rid of an elephant in the room. How did you decide to go and study biology after a splendid role you did in “Murina”?  

Well, I decided to study biology because it was something that was always very interested in me. And, you know, I just wanted to do it. It was before Cannes. But now as all the things with acting started happening it is quite interesting… When it comes to biology, I feel I would love to finish it sometime. I don’t have a timetable for it like you know, it has to be in the next two years or something. I would love to finish it sometime in life. But I dived deep into the acting and I feel my moment is now!

The acting for me is very interesting. The whole process of, you know, getting to know your character getting to talk about the role and everything. It’s very fun, but I feel like on the other hand, it’s beneficial for me to have other options besides acting. This way, with biology, I’m not desperate for the roles. I am doing it because I love it.

I’m curious, you spent so much time in this character, Julia, not just in Murina, but also, in an earlier short film “Into the blue” once again directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusjanović. So what do you think, how will preparing for the next role for the next opportunity be for you?

Well, I’m always searching for a new path you know, to build up the role. For “Murina” I wrote a diary from the character’s point of view, and it helped me a lot, trying to live in the skin of a character. In that situation, it helped me. Also, Antoneta gave me some very good instructions. And that also helped me a lot. And for the next project, well, I did have some requests and did some self-tapes, we’ll see. But on the other hand, just to know that someone on an international level, is thinking about me for some of the lead roles in some projects is quite great.

As we are a bit short on time, my last question is, was it challenging working with professional actors? Is there something else that was quite challenging?

Um, I would say in the beginning, it was challenging, it was a pretty big deal to me, you know, to see my name among such great actors and actresses, I mean, Leon Lučev. But I have to say all my fears disappeared once I met them. They were very supportive. They were very present. I feel like the thing that helped me the most is that sometimes even though the camera wasn’t on them, giving their own all their best, so I can give my best. It’s very, you know, it’s a very nice thing.

I enjoyed all of the underwater shots, even though they were challenging because the whole diving thing with bottles, was new to me. And I remember when we were shooting in the Kornati, that was amazing, and the nature and we are just, you know, just the sea and us. Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of the dancing scenes.

And of course, the scene where Julija was trapped. It was underwater, and it was physically and emotionally. The hardest scene in the movie where I had to scream. I had to yell and cry. So yeah, it was a good thing that we shot it at the beginning of the movie during the first week.

What do you think? Would it change anything for you? If it was sharp? Later on?

I think I would just be more tired. But still, it is the challenge of acting.