The 2023 German Cinema New Talent Award: Sylvie Michel earns top prize for “More Than Strangers”

Tonight, the 2023 German Cinema New Talent Award was presented at Filmfest München. The jury honored Sylvie Michel as best director for her film “More Than Strangers”. Uschi Feldges grabbed the award in the category of best producer for her drama “Empty Nets”. Merle Grimme earned the award in the category of best screenplay for “Clashing Differences” as well as participation in the Bavaria Fiction mentoring program, which is now in its second round. Dor Aloni was presented the award for best acting performance for his role in the film “Salty Water”.

The 2023 German Cinema New Talent Award is sponsored by Bavaria Film, Bayerischer Rundfunk, and DZ Bank. The award ceremony at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF) was moderated by Sandra Riess. This year’s three-member independent jury was comprised of Sheri Hagen (director/actress), Friedrich Mücke (actor), and Sophie Linnenbaum (director), who herself received the 2022 sponsorship award in the category of best director. Once again, there was additional mentoring to be won, this time in the best screenplay category, currently overseen by Maximiliane Prokop (producer).

The German Cinema New Talent Award is endowed with a total of 70,000 euros and honors outstanding achievement by emerging talent in the feature films of the New German Cinema section at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN.


German Cinema New Talent Award for BEST DIRECTOR (30,000 euros): Sylvie Michel for “More Than Strangers”

The jury stated: “A chamber play, a microcosm. In the tightest of spaces, this production gives us amusing insight into human tragedies, great and small. The composition, which is clearly defined and deliberately restrained, along with the fine directing, allows the characters to become people and friends who take us on a journey that explores right and wrong. They say that getting there is half the fun. But sometimes a detour is better. Congratulations to Sylvie Michel on her solid achievement.”

About the film:
Five strangers of different nationalities share a car ride from Berlin to Paris. All of them have only one thing in common: wanting to reach their destination easily and cheaply. When it turns out that one passenger has a serious problem that could get them all into trouble, the trip becomes a little more complicated. The journey must go on. How it does is now up to them!

“More Than Strangers” was directed by Sylvie Michel and is a co-production of Pallas Film, Twenty Twenty Vision Filmproduktion, and View Master Films. Thanassis Karathanos and Martin Hampel produced the film. “More Than Strangers” is distributed by W-Film Distribution.

German Cinema New Talent Award for BEST PRODUCER (20,000 euros): Uschi Feldges for “Empty Nets”

At the award ceremony, the jury praised Uschi Feldges’s “bold decisions as a producer”: “Far from the images and headlines that we in the Western world tend to associate with Iran, this film tells an unusual story of escape in the style of Romeo and Juliet on the coast of Iran. This film offers a well-executed change of perspective in its story, cast, and setting. Uschi Feldges, in collaboration with Eva Kemme and Ansgar Frerich, has created a hopeful and suspenseful journey in ‘Empty Nets’. Congratulations on receiving the award for best new producer.”

About the film:
Amir, a young Iranian, signs on with a fisherman on the rugged Caspian Sea coast in order to earn the money he needs to marry his sweetheart, Narges. But in so doing, he becomes entangled in the criminal machinations of caviar poaching. Piece by piece, a complex hierarchy is revealed in a parallel realm that becomes ever more constricting and oppressive, endangering Amir’s relationship with Narges as well.

German Cinema New Talent Award for BEST SCREENPLAY (10,000 euros): Merle Grimme for “Clashing Differences”

The jury stated: “Taking a humorous approach, this screenplay reflects the state of the film industry and the way it deals with the issue of diversity in essence, appearance, and reality. We are delighted with ‘Clashing Differences’, this unusual form of satirical narrative that seeks to breach the structural inequality in our film industry. We congratulate Merle Grimme on her audacious screenplay.”

About the film:
In order to avoid being “canceled”, an association called “House of Womxn” must immediately change the panel that will be participating in an international women’s conference in order to satisfy a diversity checklist. As a result, the very diverse panelists clash in the empty clubhouse, revealing some painful differences at first, but then some affirming commonalities as well.

German Cinema New Talent Award for BEST ACTING (10,000 euros): Dor Aloni for "Salty Water”

The jury stated: “You make a charming impression. And you have a strong, alluring desire to play a game. You approach your partner with great openness and with your willingness to offer surprises in the game of action and reaction. In doing so, you’re cocky and funny — as you probably are in real life — and thus invite your audience in. People want to watch you, to be near you. The subtle nuances are what make all the difference in the work we have seen. The way you say your lines, make funny observations, ask questions — play with language in general — it was all a great pleasure to watch. In a very interesting mixture of lightness, sensuality, and an unhurried game, we observe a talented individual whom we would like to see more of in the future. A lot, quite a lot, is imaginable.”

About the film:
Anne and Nuri (Dor Aloni) have only just been introduced by a mutual acquaintance when they travel to Nuri’s parents’ house in the mountains between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As the conflict between the Israeli army and Hamas escalates, they spend two intimate days by the pool under the protection of the Iron Dome missile defense system as an escape from the nightly bomb alerts in the city.


The entire award ceremony of the German Cinema New Talent Award was broadcast live on our YouTube channel, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN. The recording remains freely available. “kinokino”, Bayerischer Rundfunk’s feature segment devoted to film, reports from the event and introduces the winning films:

„kinokino extra: Das Beste vom 40. Filmfest München“
on sunday, 06/02/2023, 6:30 pm on 3sat; 10:45 pm on BR Fernsehen