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Special Guests

Caroline Link
Career Achievement Award 2021

Caroline Link was born in 1964. After graduating from high school, she spent a year in the US. In 1984 she took her first steps in the movie business as an intern at Bavaria Film Studios. She then participated in many television and movie projects as a script editor and assistant director. Her graduation project at the Academy for Film and Television in Munich, called Summer Days, received the Kodak Advancement Prize at the Film Festival in Hof. In 1992 she made the children’s film Kalle der Träumer (Kalle the Dreamer) for German TV. In the same year she also started researching the script for Beyond Silence. In 1995 she began shooting the unusual story about a deaf couple and their musically talented child, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1999, her successful adaptation of Erich Kaster’s Annaluise & Anton (which also starred Juliane Kohler) was the recipient of many international awards. Nowhere in Africa was Germany’s highest grossing film of 2002. It the 2002 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as five 2002 German Film Awards (Golden Lolas), including best film, director and cinematography. In 2013, Exit Marrakech, which premiered as a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, won the Gryphon Award for Best Film at the Giffoni International Film Festival. All About Me (Der Junge muss an die frische Luft) is based on the biography of German comedian and presenter Hape Kerkeling, received the German Film Award’s Audience Award for most visited film at the local box office, with over 3.5 million admissions. Her latest film, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, based on the novel by Judith Kerr, will be released in US theaters and virtual cinema on May 21st by Greenwich Entertainment.

A special pre-recorded ceremony and award tribute program preceded the screening of Nowhere in Africa 20th Anniversary on May 26th at 8:30 PM at the drive-in at Fort Mason Center.

Lena Urzendowsky
Actor of Cocoon

Lena Urzendowsky (Nora) was born in Berlin in 2000. She attended the Stagefactory dance and drama school between 2005 and 2012. Her television debut in 2014 in the ZDF fairy tale film The Snow Queen was followed in 2016 by her first cinema appearance in the teenage adventure Bibi & Tina: Girls vs. Boys. In the same year she appeared in her first leading role in the television thriller The White Rabbit. For this she was awarded the special prize of the Günter Rohrbach Film Prize in 2016 and the Grimme Prize and the Günter Strack Television Prize in 2017. Urzendowsky also starred in two episodes of the web series hit Dark. For her performance in the TV production The Great Rudolph about the fashion designer Rudolph Moshammer, she received the Hessian Television Award in 2018, as well as the Promotional Prize of the German Television Award and the German Acting Award in the category Young Talent the following year. In 2019 she was featured in the feature film What Might Have Been (Berlin & Beyond Opening Night Film 2020). She is currently working on a new adaptation of Christiane F.’s autobiographical book “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo“. The series is scheduled to be shown on Amazon Prime in 2021.

Lena Urzendowsky joined us for an interactive scheduled Q&A following the Closing Night screening of Cocoon on May 30th at 8:30 PM on

Ingrid Eggers
Tribute to the Co-Founder of Berlin & Beyond

From 1989 to 2009, Ingrid Eggers was Program Coordinator at the Goethe-Institut in San Francisco. With an academic background in literature, the focus of her work moved more and more towards film, another, but more elaborate way of telling a story. That resulted in a wide variety of film programs shown at the Goethe-Institut and, in 1996, the start of the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, co-founded by Ulrich Sacker, then the director of the Goethe-Institut in San Francisco. During her leadership, the festival became the largest and most critically acclaimed presentation of German language films in North America. Retired from the Goethe-Institut in 2009 and from presenting films in 2012, she now sits back and enjoys films without having to do all the hard work.

A pre-recorded tribute to Ingrid Eggers was part of the on-demand screening of Christian Petzold’s Yella.

Daphne Charizani
Director & Screenwriter of Sisters Apart

Born in Thessaloniki, Greece. Schooling in Greece and Germany. Studied Stage Design in Paris, later Politics in Munich and Hamburg. Her documentary ‘Make up’ screened at Berlinale 1999 in the Forum/Deutsche Reihe and won the Hessian Screenplay Award. Her feature ‘Madrid’ was nominated for the Screenplay Award at the 2003 Munich International Fimfestival as part of the ‘New German Cinema’ series. In 2004 `Madrid ́ received the Hessian Film Award for Best Feature. Co-writer of ‘The Audition’ and ‘The Architekt’, which received the 2009 Saarbrücken Film Festival Script Award. Her Feature ‘Sisters apart’ premiered at the International Film Festival Berlin 2020. It received the Award for Best Premiere Narrative at the Heartland Filmfestival 2020. Other Festivals (selection): Sao Paolo IFF, Heartland IFF, Shanghai IFF, Tiblisi IFF, Thessaloniki IFF, Indie Cork FF.

A segment of the pre-recorded Q&A with Daphne Charizani was shown at the drive-in screening of Sisters Apart on May 25th at 8:30 PM, and was also will be part of the film’s on-demand rental.

Sebastian Grobler
Director of Lessons of a Dream

Sebastian Grobler studied German Language Studies, Psychology and History in Hamburg, followed by work as a director’s assistant on various film and television productions. His graduation film from the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy, “The Night is Over Tomorrow Morning” (“Morgen früh ist die Nacht rum”), won the 2003 Studio Hamburg Up-and-Coming Filmmakers Award. Also active as a screenwriter, instructor and TV director, “Lessons of a Dream” (“Der ganz große Traum,” 2010) was his theatrical feature debut. He went on to direct for television the films, “Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot” (2012), “Marie räumt auf” (2016), and “Venus im vierten Haus (2018), and four episodes of the series “Katie Fforde” (2013-2017).

A segment of the pre-recorded Q&A with Sebastian Grobler was shown at the drive-in screening of Lessons of a Dream, and an interactive scheduled Q&A followed the invitation-only, US-wide educational screening of the film on May 27th at 10:00 AM on

Photo Credit: Rick Friedman

Anna Koch and Julia Lemke
Directors of Glitter and Dust

In 2006 Anna Koch started studying to become a director at Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb). Since then she has also done editorial work for or Rowohlt-Verlag. Filmography: 2016 Win By Fall, 2012 Das Wiesel und der Kampftiger, 2011 Sisters, 2008 Fata Morgana, 2007 Aquamarin

Julia Lemke was born with view of Hamburg Harbor. In 2006 she started studying to become a cinematrographer at Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie (dffb). Her short screened at MOMA New York and Cannes in 2011. In 2013 she participated in Berlinale Talent Campus. Filmography (extract): 2016 Win By Fall (dir. Anna Koch), 2015 Ken (dir. Zayne Armstrong), 2014 Tomm (dir. Zayne Armstrong), 2012 Das Wiesel und der Kampftiger (dir. Anna Koch), 2011 Sisters (dir. Anna Koch), 2010 (dir. Julia Langhof), 2009 The Jewel and Troubled Water (dir. Susanne Winterling), 2008 Schon immer so (dir. Luise Makarov), 2007 Der alte Sack (dir. Julia Langhof)

Anna Koch & Julia Lemke graduated from dffb in 2016 with their documentary feature Win by Fall, a coming-of-age drama set in the professional female wrestling-scene of Eastern Germany. Win by Fall won the award for best documentary at Hof Film Festival 2016 and had a successful festival run, i.e. at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2016 and South by Southwest 2017. It has won several awards. Since then, Anna and Julia have continued working together as the directing duo BADABUM. Their debut Glitter & Dust, produced by Flare Film, a co-production with “ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel”, had its premiere at Max Ophüls Filmfestival in January 2020.

Anna Koch and Julia Lemke joined us for an interactive Q&A following the scheduled screening of Glitter and Dust on May 27th at 8:00 PM on

Visar Morina
Director of Exile

Director Visar Morina was born in Kosovo and studied at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts. His much-acclaimed debut Babai received multiple awards such as Best Director and European Cinema Label in Karlovy Vary and Best Script at Filmfest München. Exil is his second feature. The script was honored with the German Federal Award Lola in Gold for an unfilmed screenplay.

A pre-recorded Q&A with Visar Morina was shown as part of the on-demand rental of Exile.

Bettina Oberli
Director of My Wonderful Wanda

Bettina Oberli grew up in Samoa and Meiringen in Switzerland and lives as a writer/director in Zurich. She graduated from the Zurich University of the Arts. This was followed by various assistantships in New York and Berlin. Her short and long feature films have been shown at festivals around the world and have been shown in cinemas in various countries. Her well recognized debut film Im Nordwind premiered 2004 at the San Sebastian international Filmfestival and has been awarded with several prizes. Her most successful film to date was Late Bloomers (2006), which still remains among the top 3 Swiss feature films of all time. 2018 she premiered her first french-speaking film Le Vent Tourne at the Locarno Film Festival.

Bettina Oberli also makes music videos and short films. In 2013 she showed her first stage production at the Theater Basel with “Anna Karenina”. She is also an Opera Director, and My Wonderful Wanda (2020) is her sixth feature length film. 

Photo: Anita-Affentranger

A pre-recorded Swiss Film & Talks conversation with Bettina Oberli was shown as part of the on-demand rental of My Wonderful Wanda.

Burhan Qurbani
Director of Berlin Alexanderplatz

In 1979, Burhan Qurbani’s parents fled to Germany as political refugees. He was born in 1980 and grew up in various German cities, due to his father’s work for the US army. After his high school graduation in 2000 he gained experience at theatres in Stuttgart and Hannover. From 2002 he studied directing at the Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg. His student short films won prizes at many international film festivals. In 2010 his graduation film “Shahada” screened in competition at Berlinale and was critically acclaimed and awarded at many festivals around the world. With the short documentary “Krieger ohne Feind” (Warrior Without Enemy), Burhan participated in the documentary project “20x Brandenburg”, which won the prestigious Grimme Award in 2011. Qurbani’s second fiction feature “We are Young. We are Strong.” (2014) opened the competition at both the Rome International Film Festival and Hof International Film Festival and received multiple awards worldwide.

An interactive virtual Q&A with Burhan Qurbani followed the scheduled virtual screening of Berlin Alexanderplatz on May 28th at 7:00 PM on, and a segment of the pre-recorded Q&A was shown at the Vogue Theater presentation of the film on May 29th at 7:00 PM.