MEET THE FACES of German film during this year’s Berlinale

© 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn/ The Dream Factory.

For years, since 2016 to be precise, „GERMAN FILMS“, the international marketing company for German films, has managed to bring together some of the most important makers of German films for an event complete with discussion panel and interviews: MEET THE FACES. The 2023 edition was moderated by Diana Lodderhose, editor at Deadline Hollywood magazine. This time, the panel included “seven literally sensational personalities to German cinema”, as German Films proudly notes:

Sönke Andresen – Writer

Welket Bungué – Actor

Dascha Dauenhauer – Composer

Alison Kuhn – Director, Actor, Writer

Lukas Nathrath – Director, Actor, Writer

Reza Memari – Writer, Director

Lena Urzendowsky – Actor

“Talent promotion is an important part of German Films’ work that is gaining attention and relevance over the last years. German Films is not only about promoting and supporting German films, but also about spotlighting the professionals who make them,” Managing Director Simone Baumann declares. „The focus of this year’s FACE TO FACE WITH GERMAN FILMS campaign is on multifaceted talents representing the German film industry with the goal of a sustainable and diverse future. We are proud to be able to present seven talented filmmakers as ambassadors of our campaign this year. It is our aim to increase their visibility and to strengthen the promotion of their projects abroad. With their different biographies and professional backgrounds, they have the potential to cross borders and represent the creativity of film internationally,“ Simone Baumann explains. These personalities, all of whom have already made a great contribution to German film, answered questions from Diana Lodderhose.

Sönke Andresen. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

So let’s start with writer Sönke Andresen. He was born in Hamburg in 1977, and initially studied Screenwriting at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig in Saxony before completing teacher training for German at the University of Utrecht, not far from Amsterdam. In the year 2007, he received a scholarship to attend a screenwriting lab in Munich, the so called “Drehbuchwerkstatt”, a script workshop, and has since worked as a screenwriter for film and TV series. In addition, he writes plays for the theatre as well. Andresen has collaborated on a regular basis with the director Axel Ranisch since the internationally multi-award-winning film I FEEL LIKE DISCO (2013). They also worked together on two SCENE OF THE CRIME episodes and the TV film FAMILIE LOTZMANN AUF DEN BARRIKADEN (2019). In addition, Andresen has frequently been involved as a writer on various series such as the second season of OTHER PARENTS in 2019 – who won an Grimme award, an important TV award, and which earned him a nomination for the German Comedy Award in 2020. 2023 will see the German theatrical releases of the screen adaptation of Isabel Bogdan’s novel THE PEACOCK, starring a great cast with Lavinia Wilson, Jürgen Vogel and Tom Schilling, for which he wrote the screenplay together with Christoph Mathieu, as well as the opera film ORPHEA IN LOVE, which is another collaboration with Ranisch. They also worked together on adapting Ranisch’s novel NACKT ÜBER BERLIN as a series to also be premiered this year. So some exciting work to expect in the coming months and years.

Welket Bungué. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

Next on the panel is Welket Bungué. He is a Berlin based actor, born in Guinea-Bissau in 1988, with a lot of international experience. His cross-cultural education, from Africa, Europe, and Brazil, made him into a cross-national, multitalented artist. Bungué is co-founder of a Paris production company and he holds a degree in Acting Theatre and a post-graduate degree in Performance Arts. He has been a member of the Portuguese Film Academy since 2015, a member of the Deutsche Filmakademie since 2020, an associate member of the European Film Academy since 2021, and since 2021, his films have been included in the collection of the Arsenal-Institute for Film and Video Art (Berlin). As an actor, he has participated in more than 40 films and series, amongst them Ivo Ferreira’s historical drama LETTERS FROM WAR (2016) as well as Marcelo Caetano’s highly acclaimed coming of age-drama BODY ELECTRIC (2017) and David Cronenberg’s new film CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (2022). In 2020, Welket earned a Silver Bear nomination for his lead role in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ at the Berlinale, as well as nominations for „Best Lead Actor“ at the German Film Academy (Deutscher Filmpreis) and „Best Actor“ at Stockholm International Film Festival. He has a strong connection with the Berlinale, having premiered three films there, and was invited to become a Berlinale Talent in 2021, where he presented a masterclass. That same year, he debuted as a director with the world premiere of his short film MUDANÇA at the Berlinale Forum Expanded.

Dascha Dauenhauer. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

Dascha Dauenhauer is a film composer. She was born in Moscow and began composing and playing the piano as a child and was taught in composition by Shatkovsky at the Moscow Music Conservatory. After her family moved to Berlin, she attended the “Academy for exceptionally gifted children and young people” and was accepted as a young student at the “Hanns Eisler” Academy of Music in Berlin at the age of twelve. Dauenhauer early began to compose her own pieces, her orchestra piece SINFONIETTA had its world premiere at the Berlin Philharmonic in 2004. She graduated with a degree in music theory from the UDK Berlin and studied film music for a master’s degree at the Film University Babelsberg. Her film composing career began in 2015. The film JIBRIL by Henrika Kull had its premiere at Berlinale in 2018, just like BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ in 2020 – which is one of my personal favourites of German cinema in the last years. EVOLUTION was selected for Cannes International Film Festival 2021. In 2018, she won the German Film Music Award in the categories “Best short film” and “Newcomer”. In 2020, she won the German Film Award as well as the European Film Award for her music for BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ. Most recently, Dauenhauer composed the music for the ZDF mini-series THE SWARM, which just premiered at Berlinale, as well as the film GOLDA (with Helen Mirren as Golda Meir) directed by Guy Nattiv.

Alison Kuhn. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

Alison Kuhn (born in Saarbrücken in 1995) is active in various areas of movie business: She is a director, an actor and a writer. She graduated in Babelsberg with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2022. She is successful in all her occupations. For instance, she published her first texts as early as 2016 and won the Federal Award for young poetry, IYRIX, in 2017. She immersed herself early on in Cologne’s off-theatre scene and, from 2014 onwards, appeared as an actor in a wide variety of roles in television productions and short or feature films. Alison Kuhn received many awards for her documentary THE CASE YOU (2020); the film was screened at international festivals and received the German Documentary Film Prize for Art and Culture. THE CASE YOU was highly praised by critics because the director succeeds impressively in making the abuse of power and sexual exploitation both visible and comprehensible. Alison Kuhn’s short film FLUFFY TALES (2021) was nominated for the German Short Film Award and screened as part of the Next Generation Short Tiger Programme in Cannes. Her latest medium-length feature, THE SWARMERS, was nominated for the First Steps Award and has been screened at several Oscar®-qualifying film festivals. Kuhn also directed three episodes of DRUCK in 2022 and is currently preparing for two feature films and a mini-series set to air in 2023.

Reza Memari. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

Reza Memari is a writer and director, and he founded a company called Telescope Animation. Born in Iran and raised in Bavaria, he studied Marketing Communications and worked for a major US video games publisher before entering the film industry as an editor. Memari’s first animated feature film RICHARD THE STORK (“A STORK’S JOURNEY”), which he wrote, co-directed and edited, premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. This heartfelt adventure about a sparrow who thinks he’s a stork was commercially successful worldwide and received numerous awards, including the Bavarian Film Award. In 2018, Memari co-founded the Berlin-based movie production company Telescope Animation together with the producer Maite Woköck. Memari launched Telescope Animation Studios in Hamburg, and later Telescope Game Studios in Brandenburg. With these, he uses real-time rendering technology Unreal Engine to create transmedia productions like animated feature films, series, AR/VR experiences and games that are interconnected. His new project, THE LAST WHALE SINGER, follows a humpback whale saving oceans with his mystical song and includes an animated feature film, game, and TV series to be released from 2026-2027. Memari sees animation as a medium for diverse stories, not just for children.

Lukas Nathrath. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

Lukas Nathrath studied film directing at the Hamburg Media School from 2016 to 2019. He was invited to the Next Generation Short Tiger program of German Films at the 2018 Festival de Cannes with his short film MORALE (MIT IM BUND). His string of success continued in 2019, as his graduation film KIPPA received several prizes and ran on dozens of festivals. Before film school, Nathrath studied North American Studies with a focus on film in Munich; he also attended a semester in acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Since being a teenager, he has appeared as an actor in various film and television productions. In 2020, Lukas Nathrath was invited to the Filmmakers Residency Basel, and the following year, he was a participant at the esteemed screenwriting lab Drehbuchwerkstatt Munich. He also worked as 2nd-unit-director on high-end series projects in both 2021 and 2022. In 2022, Nathrath’s first feature film ONE LAST EVENING, shot in just seven days, won the top prize in the First Look section at the Locarno Film Festival. He directed and produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Sebastian Jakob Doppelbauer. The tragicomedy was at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2023 and at Filmfestival Max Ophüls Prize.

© 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn
Lena Urzendowsky. © 2023 German Films/ Marcus Höhn

One of my favourite young German actors is Lena Urzendowsky, born in 2000. She played the lead role in the coming-of-age movie COCOON, which celebrated its world premiere opening the Generation+ section at the Berlinale 2020. Alongside director Leonie Krippendorff, Urzendowsky was honoured with the Bavarian Film Prize and the internationally renowned Iris Prize for her acting performance. In the fairy tale adaptation, THE SNOW QUEEN (2014), she made her debut in front of the camera, followed by her first leading role in TV production THE WHITE RABBIT (2016) by Florian Schwarz. For her performance in this film, she was awarded the Grimme Prize, the Guenther Rohrbach Film Prize and the Guenther Strack Television Prize. In 2018, she played alongside Thomas Schmauser and German film icon Hannelore Elsner in the biopic DER GROSSE RUDOLPH by Alexander Adolph, again followed by a shower of awards. She was part of the ensemble in the Netflix hit-series DARK (2017/2019) by Jantje Friese and Baran Bo Odar and the thriller series THE DEFEATED (2020), as well as in the Netflix crime series HOW TO SELL DRUGS ONLINE (FAST) (2020). And most notably, in 2021 she was part of the ensemble of the series remake by Amazon Prime of the 80s hit movie WE CHILDREN FROM BAHNHOF ZOO, directed by Philipp Kadelbach. In 2021 she was part of Oliver Kracht’s graduation film GERMANY YEAR ZERO (2021) and of the comedy SWEET DISASTER (2021). She had the lead part in FRANKY FIVE STAR (2022), directed by Birgit Moeller, playing a complex character with multiple personalities – which just was my favourite at this year’s Max-Ophüls-Festival. Lena Urzendowsky has several upcoming projects in 2023, including JENSEITS DER BLAUEN GRENZE, a novel adaptation directed by Sarah Neumann, and a role in Amazon Prime’s series LUDEN. She recently starred in Michael Klier’s DAS SCHÖNSTE IST DER FLUSS and appeared in Andreas Dresen’s latest film FROM HILDE, WITH LOVE. When not acting, she studies philosophy at Humboldt University in Berlin and recently studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York.

[With the use of the press kit of German Films]

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