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KILKENNY, IRELAND – A dozen of Europe’s most promising young actors were recognized Sunday night at an Irish festival that focuses on talent on the verge of international breakthroughs.
The Angela Awards were handed out at the closing of the second edition of Kilkenny’s Subtitle Festival and singled out actors, and one editor and a casting director, after a week, during which more than 30 non-English language films from across Europe were screened.
The films ranged from international French hit The Intouchables to Norway’s Headhunters, Finland’s Heart of a Lion and Russian-language thriller The Weather Station by Moscow-based Irish director Johnny O’Reilly.
The festival, held in an ancient tiny county capital packed with pubs, churches and historic buildings, including a medieval castle, lauded actors from some of Europe’s most critically acclaimed films.
They included Russia’s Danila Kozlovsky, soon to be seen as Dmitri Belikov alongside Bond girl and Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, in the Weinstein Company’s’ Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, which is due to be released Feb. 14.
Also honored with awards Sunday at the event emceed by Irish actress Pauline McLynne (Father Ted) were Jakub Gierszal (Poland, Suicide Room); Jessica Grabowsky (Finland, 8-Ball); Marwan Kenzari (Holland, Wolf); Marija Pikic (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Children of Sarajevo); Laura Birn (Finland, Purge); Danila Kozlovsky (Russia, Soulless); Hannah Hoekstra (Holland, Hemel); Peter Franzen (Finland, Heart of a Lion); and Antonio De La Torre (Spain, Grupo 7)
Aksel Hennie (Norway, Ninety Minutes); Pilou Asbaek (Denmark, A Hijacking) and Agnieszka Grochowska (Poland, Walesa – Man of Hope) received their awards on Saturday as they had to leave early due to work commitments.
Casting director Avy Kaufman was honored with a lifetime achievement award, and Per Erik-Eriksen for his editing work on Norwegian film Kon-Tiki.
One of a series of annual cultural events held in the city of 24,000 people south-west of Dublin, the festival was founded by local man and international talent agent Richard Cook, who is also responsible for an annual comedy festival and economic forum in Kilkenny.
Cook said the idea behind the festival is to offer a platform to showcase films in European languages that are rarely seen in Ireland and bring top talent together with casting directors, for whom a series of meetings with actors are arranged over the last two days of the festival.
“Too many European funding agencies insist on a formula for festivals that offers little room for promoting talent,” Cook told The Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted to put talent at the centre of films that are not always seen outside of their own countries because they are not in English.”
He added that even though there were high-profile events like the Berlinale’s Shooting Stars, organized by European Film Promotion, more could be done to bring top talent wider recognition.
Kaufman, who has cast many top Hollywood films in a career spanning three decades, including Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain, said: “This festival is so special, there is nothing like it. This is a place for actors to show off their work.”
Nancy Bishop, a Prague-based, U.S-born casting director, who recently cast for Ridley Scott’s production of Child 44, said it was a valuable opportunity to meet actors for whom roles could be available internationally.
Irish casting director, Lucy Lenox, who is based in Barcelona, Spain, said: “European films need to be cast beyond just their local boundaries that why it has been wonderful to meet so many great actors here.”
Evgenia Khirivskaya (aka Brik), who plays a provincial school teacher in Russian film The Geographer Drank His Globe Away, which has been picking up festival awards internationally since its premiere in June, said she and many of her generation of Russian actors spoke English and were ready to take on work international productions.
“Russian actors benefit from studying for four years using the Stanislavsky method, which makes for very deep and unique skills,” she said.
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