In its ninth year, the international talent campaign known as FACE TO FACE WITH GERMAN FILMS, initiated by German Films, continues its mission to promote the global distribution of German films and enhance the recognition of German filmmakers on the international stage. Since 2016, German Films has been steadfast in organizing the annual FACE TO FACE WITH GERMAN FILMS campaign, showcasing emerging and exceptional talents in the German film industry to audiences worldwide. This ongoing effort has successfully established a platform that garners recognition both nationally and internationally.
Presenting seven distinct, remarkable, and diverse individuals, FACE TO FACE WITH GERMAN FILMS – THE FILMMAKERS showcases each person‘s unique and fascinating journey into the film industry. From many different perspectives, these individuals demonstrate the vibrant and diverse nature of work and creativity within the film industry. Our FACES 2024 are actor Jan Bülow, writer and director Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay, actor Banafshe Hourmazdi, writer and director Moritz Müller-Preißer, production designer Mona Cathleen Otterbach, and writers and directors Eva Trobisch and Soleen Yusef.
“We at German Films see it as our task to support upcoming talents from the German film industry and to accompany them on their way to becoming successful filmmakers,” Simone Baumann, Managing Director of German Films, explains. “It is particularly important to us to show that the film industry is incredibly diverse and that we have fantastic talents in a wide variety of trades here in Germany. We are proud to present seven filmmakers as ambassadors for our campaign this year, whose diverse CVs and professional backgrounds symbolize creativity in the film industry.”
The German actor Jan Bülow was born in Berlin in 1996. He studied acting at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin, but left school early without graduating. This was followed by an engagement at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. His first role there was the title role in HAMLET by William Shakespeare, staged by artistic director Barbara Frey.
Since 2012, Jan has also appeared on the big screen, including in RADIO HEIMAT (2016) by Matthias Kutschmann and ABGESCHNITTEN (2018) by Christian Alvart.
In LINDENBERG! MACH DEIN DING by Hermine Huntgeburth, a biopic about the young Udo Lindenberg, Jan played the lead role, singing several of the famous German singer’s songs himself. His performance won him the Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Actor in 2020, and the character also earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the German Film Awards. In THE UNIVERSAL THEORY (DIE THEORIE VON ALLEM, 2022) by Timm Kröger, Jan again took on the lead role. In this black-and-white thriller he plays a young physicist attending a conference in the Alps, where strange things happen. The feature film had its world premiere in the main competition at Venice Film Festival 2023.
Jan recently filmed the series KAFKA (ARD, director David Schalko, 2023), which deals with the difficult relationship between the well-known German-language writer and his tyrannical father.
Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay was born in Bad Hersfeld in 1987 and grew up in Hagen. He studied Media Arts at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, graduating with honors. He was a fellow of the “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes” (German National Academic Foundation).
In 2019, Mehmet directed ORAY, his graduation film, which not only received numerous international awards at prestigious festivals but also won the Best First Feature Award at the Berlinale 2019. Through his production company filmfaust, he collaborates with his colleague Claus Reichel to produce international and award-winning feature and documentary films, such as Deren Ercenk’s BERZAH and Cem Kaya’s LOVE, DEUTSCHMARKS AND DEATH, which captivated both audiences and critics. These films garnered multiple awards at important festivals, including Oberhausen Short Film Festival and the Berlinale. In these films, Mehmet acts as a creative producer, guiding the projects from their initial conception to their grand premiere on the big screen.
filmfaust focuses on auteur films with personal signatures and an artistic-political vision, concentrating on marginalized, post-migrant and artistically challenging voices. For his upcoming project HYSTERIA, Mehmet wrote the screenplay as well as producing and directing the film. The movie is expected to premiere in 2024. He lives and works in Cologne.
Banafshe Hourmazdi was born in the Ruhr area in 1990, and grew up in Germany. She studied acting at the Academy of Performing Arts Baden-Wuerttemberg (ADK Baden-Württemberg) from 2009 to 2012 and then completed a master’s degree in acting at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Her greatest successes include the feature film NO HARD FEELINGS (FUTUR DREI, directed by Faraz Shariat, 2020). The film received numerous international nominations and awards – Banafshe was awarded the Götz George Young Talent Award for Best Ensemble at the First Steps Awards 2019.
In recent years, Banafshe has appeared in numerous TV productions, including the series MAPA (ARD, directed by Jano Ben Chaabane, 2019), LOVING HER (ZDF, directed by Leonie Krippendorff, 2021 and directed by Eline Gehring, 2022), and OH HELL (MagentaTV, directed by Lisa Miller, Simon Ostermann, 2021), as well as the feature films KOKON (directed by Leonie Krippendorff, 2019) and PHANTOMS & GHOSTS (WO KEINE GÖTTER SIND, WALTEN GESPENSTER, directed by Bastian Gascho, 2021).
Most recently, she worked on the feature film projects EIN FEST FÜRS LEBEN (directed by Richard Huber, 2022) and TURNING TABLES (KLANDESTIN, directed by Angelina Maccarone, 2023). She is also taking on a role in Burhan Qurbani’s new film NO BEAST SO FIERCE (KEIN TIER SO WILD – WT), which is due to be released in 2024.
Moritz Müller-Preißer (*1991) is a German director and writer. Originally from Hamburg, he studied Media Engineering and Social Sciences in Cologne and Duesseldorf before enrolling to study film direction at the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF München). Moritz‘s focus is on human-centred, subcultural stories, apart from the norm, exploring what is true in reality. He is particularly interested in merging documentary and fiction layers to emphasize the story.
His cinematic works have been showcased at numerous international festivals, earning accolades and recognition. Moritz received many awards for his short documentary film HAEBERLI (2020); the film has been screened at numerous festivals worldwide, including a finalist nomination at the Student Oscars®. Both his films WE ARE DATA (2018) and HAEBERLI (2020) have also been placed on the shortlist at the BAFTA Student Film Awards.
In his latest film, the feature documentary GOD’S OTHER PLAN (2024), Moritz continues his exploration of sensitive narratives, this time focusing on a queer blended family in Utah/ USAstriving for acceptance within their Mormon families.
Moritz is currently working on several future feature films and series to be produced in 2024, including turning his short documentary HAEBERLI into a feature film.
Mona Cathleen Otterbach, born in 1991, gained her first experience in the creative field of production design during her internship at the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2010. After she had finished her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris in 2014, she was drawn back to film. She started her production design studies at the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg in fall 2014, graduating in spring 2017.
Mona Cathleen became known with feature films such as SWEET DISASTER by Laura Lehmus and FRANKY FIVE STAR by Birgit Möller, for which she was honored with the special award for Best Production Design in the feature film category at the Filmz Festival Mainz in 2023. All of her projects have a connection to surreal worlds and deal playfully with reality. This is also the case in her new project MILK TEETH by Sophia Bösch, based on the novel by Helene Bukowski. The film celebrates its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in January 2024 and is expected to be released in cinemas in autumn/winter 2024.
She is currently working on other feature films such as SEVEN DAYS OF FEBRUARY by Tatjana Moutchnik and DREI KAMERADINNEN by Milena Aboyan, the latter is based on the book “Sisters in Arms” by Shida Bazyar.
Eva Trobisch was born in Berlin in 1983. She first worked as an assistant in the theatre, then for several years in various roles in film. In 2009, she began studying direction at the University of Television and Film in Munich (HFF München). Her short films have won several awards. In 2013, she attended the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in New York to study film dramaturgy on a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation, and began a Master’s degree in screenwriting at the London Film School in 2015. Her first feature film ALL GOOD (ALLES IST GUT) won Best Director, Best Acting and the FIPRESCI Award at the Munich Film Festival in 2018, celebrated its international premiere in Locarno, where it was awarded Best Debut Film, received the Woman in Motion Award at Cannes Film Festival, and the German Film Critics’ Award.
In 2020, Eva was appointed to the jury of the Berlinale competition series Encounters. Her second feature film IVO will premiere at the A-list festival in Berlin in 2024. As a partner in Trimafilm, she is developing several films in a team with Trini Götze, Mariko Minoguchi and David Armati Lechner, and is currently preparing her own third feature film ETWAS GANZ BESONDERES (WT), which she will shoot in spring 2024 as a co-production by Trima- and Komplizenfilm with if-production.
Soleen Yusef was born in Duhok/Iraqi Kurdistan in 1987. At the age of nine she and her family had to flee to Germany because of the political circumstances. She attended the Academy of Stage Arts, where she was trained as a singer and an actor. Eventually, she ended up working in the film industry for a few years and was a production and direction assistant at Mîtosfilm.
In 2008 she started studying feature film directing at the renowned Baden-Wurttemberg Film Academy. Her short movie NOŞ [cheers to you] was shown in competition at several national and international film festivals. TRATTORIA premiered at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012.
Soleen Yusef received the distinction of the Germany Scholarship in 2012. She also participated, as a Baden-Wurttemberg scholarship holder, in the UCLA Workshop at the Film Academy in Los Angeles in 2013. HOUSE WITHOUT ROOF, her first feature film, achieved even greater success. Since then, Soleen Yusef has been working as a director for several national and international series productions, including SKYLINES for Netflix and DEUTSCHLAND 89 for Amazon Prime. In 2022 she worked as a lead director and writer on the miniseries SAM – A SAXON for Disney+.
Soleen Yusef is currently fulfilling a dream with a very personal, first children’s movie called WINNERS, which will be shown in the section Generations at the Berlinale 2024.