Berlin festival's Stars jury aligns

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COLOGNE, Germany -- A five-member jury headed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Michael Ballhaus ("The Departed") will pick Europe's nine best up-and-coming actors for the 2008 Shooting Stars event at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The other members of the Shooting Stars jury are Danish producer Vibeke Windelov ("Mammoth," "Dogville"); British actress Lucy Russell ("Angel"), herself a Shooting Star in 2002; Italian casting director Beatrice Kruger ("The International"); and Derek Power, manager of such Euro talent as Ben Kingsley, Greta Scacchi and Graham McTavish.

This will be the first time the Shooting Stars will be selected by an independent jury. It also will mark a major reduction in the number of actors selected as "stars." The 2007 event, which marked the 10th anniversary of Shooting Stars, featured 25 talents.

The actors' showcase, which is organized by the European Union's European Film Promotion body, has introduced previously unknown talents including Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Ludivine Sagnier and Daniel Bruhl to the rest of the world.

But the event has become so massive that casting directors and producers -- not to mention journalists -- have found it difficult to pick out the handful of breakout talents from the crowd.

The changes to the 2008 Shooting Stars are intended to address this and the appointment of an independent jury is aimed at reducing any potential political influence over the selection.

The European Union's 22 member countries have each selected a local actor for the 2008 event. The jury will choose the final nine from among this group and announce the final lineup in early December.

The Shooting Stars will be introduced to the press and the international film industry at a series of events during the Berlinale, which runs Feb. 7-17.

"Apart from the new selection criteria and the establishment of an international jury, we would like to support the Shooting Stars even more intensively in their international career," European Film Promotion managing director Renate Rose said. "We have therefore planned a series of events, such as master classes, which are specially conceived for the Shooting Stars 2008 and will present them with their films at other festivals within Europe."

The Shooting Stars program is backed by the EU's MEDIA program, German production giant Studio Hamburg, EU member countries and carmaker Volkswagen.
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