Shooting Star Martha Canga Antonio


The Berlin International Film Festival has elected Belgian actress Martha Canga Antonio as one of the European Shooting Stars of 2016. The actress is seen as one of the 10 most promising young actors and actresses of the moment. An international jury of film experts selected Antonio out of 24 candidates nominated by members of the European Film Promotion, the European film promotion network organizing the Shooting Stars initiative.

The jury praises Antonio's acting debut in its report: "In Black, a story about gang violence in the infamous neighbourhood Molenbeek in Brussels, Antonio makes a remarkable debut as a modern Julia. In her very first movie role she shows she has perfect timing, is brave, determined and is a natural at acting".

"I could have never imagined that a gut feeling would take me all the way to Berlin", Antonio said in a first reaction. The directors of Black, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, chose Antonio out of 450 women who auditioned for a role in the movie.  Even though Antonio hadn't taken acting classes or had any previous experience, she got the leading role in the movie, in part at the advice of another Belgian director, Hans Herbots, who encouraged El Arbi and Fallah to seriously consider Antonio as there was "something endearing about her".

Since Black's world première in Toronto, Antonio's performance has drawn a lot of attention. Her performance as the 15-year old Mavela who gets entangled in her feelings for a guy in a rival gang and her loyalty for her own group, gained her a place on the leading American website IndieWire’s list of 'nine actors to watch'. This past month the actress was awarded the prize for Best Actress on the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn.

The Shooting Stars is a stepping stone for young European acting talent and has launched the careers of actors such as Daniel Craig, Carey Muligan, Alicia Vikander, Daniël Brühl. Antonio isn't the first Belgian put in the spotlight like this; Michaël Pas (1998), Filip Peeters (2001), Jérémie Renier (2002), Matthias Schoenaerts (2003), Marie Vinck (2005) and Kevin Janssens (2007) went before her.

Besides the Belgian actress, the Shooting Stars of 2016 are Lou de Laâge (France), Jella Haase (Germany), Reinout Scholten van Aschat (the Netherlands), Atli Óskar Fjalarsson from Iceland, the Italian Sara Serraiocco, María Valverde (Spain), Kacey Mottet Klein (Switzerland), Daphné Patakia from Greece and Tihana Lazović from Croatia. The 10 of them have been invited to the Berlin International Film Festival (from 11 to 21 February 2016) where they are not only presented to the press, the public and film professionals present, but can also partake in many different workshops and events and meet casting directors, agents and movie makers.