Doris Dörrie is one of Germany’s most versatile and successful filmmakers. She is constantly seeking new narrative approaches. She has been writing and directing popular feature films for more than thirty years. MEN… (1985), ME AND HIM (1988), NOBODY LOVES ME (1994), AM I BEAUTIFUL? (1998), NAKED (2002), and THE FISHERMAN AND HIS WIFE (2005) were not only hits at the box office; they also received numerous awards. In 2022, her latest film, THE POOL, had its world premiere at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN. In 1983, the director made her first feature film, STRAIGHT THROUGH THE HEART, which was screened at film festivals in Venice and Tokyo. It was then that her love affair with Japan began. Her Zen comedy ENLIGHTENMENT GUARANTEED (1999), shot in Japan, was released in 2000. Her 2008 drama CHERRY BLOSSOMS, starring Elmar Wepper and Hannelore Elsner, is set in Tokyo and at the foot of Mount Fuji. That film, too, was a worldwide success. In 2016, Dörrie shot the feature film GREETINGS FROM FUKUSHIMA in the radioactive landscape on the Pacific coast. Since 1997, she has been a professor of creative writing at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF). Her work to date includes more than 30 feature films and documentaries for cinema and television, as well as some 30 books and opera productions.
İlker Çatak was born in Berlin in 1984 and spent his childhood in Istanbul, where he attended school. He studied film and television directing in Berlin and Hamburg, earning his master’s degree in directing at the Hamburg Media School in 2014. His graduation film SADAKAT (2014) received various international awards and earned the 2015 student Oscar in gold. Çatak’s debut feature, ES WAR EINMAL INDIANERLAND (2017), was based on a young adult novel of the same title by Nils Mohl. His second film, ES GILT DAS GESPROCHENE WORT (2019), received the Bronze Lola at the German Film Awards. The fall of 2021 saw the release of his film RÄUBERHÄNDE, which was also nominated for a German Film Award. Çatak has also directed an episode of the crime series TATORT. His latest film, DAS LEHRERZIMMER, had its world premiere at the 73rd Berlinale and earned seven awards at the 2023 German Film Awards.
Kim Yutani has been the director of programming at the Sundance Film Festival since 2018. She began curating short films for the festival in 2006 and became a feature-film curator in 2009, focusing on US and international fiction features, as well as assisting with panel discussions and talks. She was instrumental in creating Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, which has since grown into Sundance Film Festival: Asia. Yutani has also curated films for Outfest Los Angeles and the Provincetown International Film Festival, been a reader for Creative Capital, and been on the short film nominating committee for Cinema Eye Honors. Prior to her film festival work, Yutani was a film critic and freelance journalist focusing on independent film. She got her start in the film industry as an assistant to director Gregg Araki.
Dr. Monika Bayer-Wermuth
Andreas Kleinert is a renowned German director known for his visceral and thought-provoking films. He graduated from the Konrad Wolf Film Academy in Potsdam-Babelsberg in 1989. He is currently a professor of feature-film directing at that institution, now a university. Kleinert’s feature films have been screened at all the world’s A-list festivals, including Cannes, Venice and Locarno. His film MEIN VATER (2003) earned an International Emmy Award. One of his best-known films is the 1999 black-and-white film WEGE IN DIE NACHT, which tells of the effects of German reunification on the life of a family. That film received numerous awards, including two German Film Awards and the Grimme-Preis, and opened the Quinzaine des réalisateurs in Cannes. His latest feature film, LIEBER THOMAS, received the Grand Prix in Tallinn and nine Lolas in 2022, including for best film and best director.
Luisa-Céline Gaffron grew up in Vienna. From 2014 to 2018, she studied acting at the Berlin University of the Arts. In 2016 she appeared in director Leonie Krippendorff’s debut feature film, LOOPING. She played the title character In Lea Becker’s short feature film JENNY, which premiered at the Max-Ophüls-Preis film festival in 2017 to significant acclaim. In 2018, she was again in front of the camera for the British drama SIX MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT by Andy Goddard, starring Dame Judi Dench. For her performance as Nora Frankenberg in the Sky series 8 DAYS, she was nominated for the Deutscher Schauspielpreis in 2019. In 2019, she attended the premiere at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN of the feature film STAY STILL by Elisa Mishto, in which she played the main character, Agnes. At the BERLINALE in 2019, she attended the world premiere of the international motion picture PERSIAN LESSONS (Oscar shortlist), directed by Vadim Perelman. In 2023 she is playing the main character, Pia, in HOW TO BE NORMAL, the first feature film to be directed by Florian Pochlatko.
Dr. Monika Bayer-Wermuth is a senior curator at Museum Brandhorst in Munich, where she had been curator of contemporary art from 2019 to 2022. Bayer-Wermuth had previously worked at the Tate Modern, London (2016–2019) and at the Lenbachhaus in Munich (2014–2016). She is a member of the advisory board of Kunstraum München.
Anne Ratte-Polle attended the Rostock University of Music and Drama until 2000. An award-winning career in theater followed, including at the Volksbühne under the directorship of Frank Castorf. Her equally award-winning film career includes leading roles in such internationally acclaimed films as DIE NACHT SINGT IHRE LIEDER, UN ÉTÉ COMME ÇA, ALLE WOLLEN GELIEBT WERDEN, and the successful series DARK, SHADOWPLAY, FUNERAL FOR A DOG, and ZWEI SEITEN DES ABGRUNDS. For the lead role in İlker Çatak's highly acclaimed love story ES GILT DAS GESPROCHENE WORT, which received the German Film Award, Anne Ratte-Polle was honored with the Bavarian Film Award for best actress in 2020 and was nominated for the German Film Award herself.
Axel Ranisch was born in Berlin-Lichtenberg in 1983 as the overweight child of two competitive athletes. He spent a large part of his childhood with his waltzing grandparents. After many years of maintaining a critical distance to the medium of film, Axel shot his first short film by accident in June 2002, which made him incurably passionate about it. In the years that followed, he made some 80 short films on his own and was involved in others as an actor, writer, composer, or editor. From 2004 to 2011 he studied directing at the HFF “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Although his films were perceived as controversial at the film school, they were screened at more than a hundred festivals, small and large, and routinely received awards. His first feature film, DICKE MÄDCHEN, was celebrated at festivals around the world. His next feature films, REUBER, ICH FÜHL MICH DISCO, and ALKI ALKI, were also screened at several festivals and appreciated by the audience. Ranisch has been able to live out his passion for classical music on the opera stage since 2013. Since then he has often directed operas in Munich, Stuttgart, and Lyon. His latest film, ORPHEA IN LOVE, combines the best of both worlds. Last winter he finished shooting a series based on his own novel NACKT ÜBER BERLIN. Currently he is directing stage productions at the Komische Oper in Berlin.
Bruce LaBruce is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, and artist who works in Toronto. Alongside a number of short films, he has scripted and directed 14 feature films, including GERONTOPHILIA, which received the Grand Prix at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montréal in 2013. His work as a visual artist has been exhibited at several galleries around the world; a photography exhibition of his called “Obscenity” caused a national uproar in Spain. His film L.A. ZOMBIE was even banned in Australia. Writing in Artforum, John Waters called his film SAINT-NARCISSE one of the ten best films of 2021. His latest pornographic work, THE AFFAIRS OF LIDIA by Erika Lust Films, was released in 2022 and had its world premiere at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival. LaBruce is currently working on a pornographic art film called THE VISITOR for a gallery in London. Three film retrospectives have been dedicated to LaBruce: one at TIFF/Bell Lightbox in Toronto in 2014, one at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 2015, and just now one at the Cinématheque québécoise in Montréal. LaBruce has also written and directed plays and has published several memoirs.
Friedrich Mücke was born in Berlin in 1981 and received his training at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts. His career as a sought-after actor in film, television, and theater began with the film FRIENDSHIP! (2009). He also made a name for himself on the stage at the Volkstheater in Munich and at the Salzburg Festival. Films such as SMS FÜR DICH by Karoline Herfurth (2015), AM ABEND ALLER TAGE by Dominik Graf (2017), and BALLON by Michael “Bully” Herbig (2018) followed. In addition, Mücke starred in the award-winning series FUNERAL FOR A DOG, which was released on Sky/WOW in 2022. Soon to be released is the six-part RTL Plus series ICH BIN DAGOBERT, in which Mücke plays a department store extortionist who called himself Scrooge McDuck.
Sheri Hagen is a director and actress from Berlin. In addition to numerous works for film and television, she has appeared in various theater productions. She first entered the scene as a screenwriter and director in 2007 with the short film STELLA UND DIE STÖRCHE. Her feature film debut, AUF DEN ZWEITEN BLICK, followed in 2010. In 2015, Hagen founded a production company called Equality Film GmbH, which focuses on telling special stories that reflect the diverse realities of life in German society. Her second feature film, FENSTER BLAU (2016), was based on “Muttermale Fenster Blau”, a play by Sasha Marianna Salzmann. Hagen is currently working on the feature films BILLIE and MOTHERHOOD. A series called KEHINDE and a short film, AUF WIEDERSEHEN, are in development.
After completing her studies in psychology and working as a playwright, director and writer Sophie Linnenbaum studied directing at the Film University Babelsberg “Konrad Wolf”. In addition to directing short films that have received national and international awards, she directs series and documentaries. Her first feature film, THE ORDINARIES, had its international premiere in the main competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, received the German Cinema New Talent Award for best director at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, and received the First Steps Award as best full-length feature film.
Philip Henze, born in Bad Homburg in 1993, started out working in the cinematography department of motion picture, television, and image film productions. In 2014, he shot his first short film as director of photography in Jordan. From 2015 he studied image design/cinematography at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. His camerawork on Murad Abu Eisheh’s graduation film TALA’VISION earned him the Michael Ballhaus Award at the First Steps Awards in 2020, the German Camera Award in the Young Camera category in 2021, and the Silver Tadpole at the 29th Camerimage in the Student Etudes competition. TALA’VISION also earned the 2021 Student Oscar in gold for best international short film. A second film by Eisheh, A CALLING. FROM THE DESERT. TO THE SEA. premiered at the Cairo International Film Festival in 2022 and was nominated for the 33rd German Camera Award. Henze lives in Berlin and is a member of the German Film Academy.
Joya Thome studied education and social sciences in Berlin and received a scholarship for a semester at New York University, where she attended a course in screenwriting at the Tisch School of the Arts. In 2016, she had her feature-film debut with QUEEN OF NIENDORF. This award-winning film about a ten-year-old girl who tries to become a member of the local boys’ gang was screened at more than 40 film festivals around the world and was released in eight European countries. Thome then directed several episodes of series for Nickelodeon and ZDF (including DRUCK). In October 2018, she was awarded the Deutscher Regiepreis Metropolis for QUEEN OF NIENDORF. Her second feature-length film, LAURA’S STAR, was screened at KINDERFILMFEST MÜNCHEN in 2021, as was her first motion-picture documentary, ONE IN A MILLION is her first motion-picture documentary, in 2022.
Maite Woköck has extensive experience in animated feature film and series development, financing and production. Her credits include PETRONELLA APPLEWITCH – THE SERIES (for Akkord Film / ZDF), TWO BY TWO and NIKO 2 – LITTLE BROTHER, BIG TROUBLE (for Ulysses Film) and many more. With her company Ella Film she is in production of the animated feature film MY FAIRY TROUBLEMAKER. She is a graduate of EAVE, EAVE+ and the Academy for Children’s Media. In 2021 she was nominated as Producer on the Move for Germany by European Film Promotion. Since 2022 she is the chairwoman for animation in the Producer’s Alliance Germany.
Annika Schmidt’s background is in journalism, with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hannover and a master’s degree from the University of Hamburg. She acquired experience at newspapers and radio stations in Germany, Prague, and New York prior to working for the Munich production company Wiedemann & Berg. Schmidt was then an editor for international co-productions at ZDF from 2016 to 2021, working on various projects such as THE TOURIST, THE MALLORCA FILES, and FURIA. In 2021/2022 she was a mentor at the Munich Screenplay Workshop and Serial Eyes. Since 2022, Schmidt has been head of German originals and European co-productions at Dynamic Television.
Judith Fülle is a producer who lives in Cologne. She attended the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF) and went on to produce a number of TV movies, series, and feature films. For three years, she has been working for bildundtonfabrik (btf). Last year, she received the Bernd Burgemeister Award for best series for KING OF STONKS.
Thomas Wöbke and Jakob Claussen founded Claussen+Wöbke Filmproduktion GmbH in 1992. At BerghausWöbke Filmproduktion GmbH, Wöbke, along with co-managing director Philipp Trauer and producer Anna Eigl, has been producing content for movies, television, and series for a wide audience since 2013. Recently completed are the feature film SEPTEMBER 5, directed by Tim Fehlbaum, which tells the story of the terrorist attack at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich from the perspective of an American television broadcaster, and I AM THE GREATEST, an anthology film for ZDF – Das kleine Fernsehspiel and Arte, directed by Marlene Bischof and Nicolai Zeitler.
Ela Bittencourt is a writer and critic who has recently been living in São Paulo and New York. Her essays on art and film appear in numerous publications, including Artforum, Film Comment, Frieze, Hyperallergic, Sight & Sound, The Art Newspaper, The New York Review of Books, and The Nation. Bittencourt has presented programs of films in Latin America and the United States and teaches at various critics’ academies. She holds an MA in arts management and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University in New York, where she has also taught critiquing.
Frank Arnold, born in 1954, studied social sciences. A film critic since the mid-1970s, he is currently a regular contributor to epd Film, Tip Berlin, Die Rheinpfalz, and filmbulletin. For many years he was editor of “Cinegraph. Lexikon zum deutschsprachigen Film” and a lecturer at the Free University of Berlin. He also planned and organized film series (Kino Arsenal and Zeughauskino in Berlin, Metropolis Kino in Hamburg, KoKi Mannheim, Festival Oberhausen). He produced numerous works for the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, texts for books about film, and booklet texts for Mediabooks. Arnold is the author and (co-)editor of “The Late Late Show. 25 andere Gesichter aus Hollywood”. He currently lives in Berlin.
Serhii Ksaverov is a film critic and a member of the Association of Film Critics of Ukraine. He is a regular contributor to lb.ua and DTF Magazine. Since 2018, he has been co-curator of the Kyiv Critics Week Festival. He lives and works in Kyiv.
Bhagu T. Chellaney
Bhagu T. Chellaney was born in Kotri, India. Alongside architecture, he studied fine arts and design and art history. For many years he was an architect, urban planner, designer, and film consultant.
Christine Weissbarth was born in Vienna. She came to Munich as a student, earning a degree in art history from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. She is a presenter and actress in addition to being director of studies at the Interfilm Academy.
Marianna Kavka is an actress, film director, and journalist from Ukraine.