Black Night Stars

Black Nights Stars is designed to support young actors from the Baltic Sea region, to make their next steps into the international arena by connecting them to key international film professionals, such as casting directors, casting agents, producers and the press and acquire various practical skills needed in their future international careers.

The online event highlights the emerging talent, based on the participants’ first film and TV roles and consists of masterclasses and networking events. The program focuses on the future of casting and auditioning online, presenting oneself at industry and media events, and Intimacy in front of the camera. For directors and producers, we will discuss what casting directors can do for a project, securing cast and how to get the right actors.

2020 Black Nights Stars

In 2020 altogether eight emerging talents took part of the Black Nights Stars programme.


Aaron Hilmer (Germany) has played a recurring role in the well-known youth series Die Pfefferkörner (2013-14) and has had his most important roles to date with Frederick Lau in the comedy Schrotten! by Max Zähle, as a shy young man in Lars Monday’s Einsamkeit und Sex und Mitleid and as Cyrill in the modern Cyrano de Bergerac film adaptation of Das Schönste Mädchen Der Welt by Aron Lehmann. He can currently be seen in the Netflix series The Last Word by Aron Lehmann and in the ZDF neo thriller series Sloborn by Christian Alvart, Adolfo Kolmerer. In 2018 he received the Günter Rohrbach Film Prize for The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. In 2019 he was awarded the Bunte New Faces Award as the best young actor and in 2020 he was the new star at the German Film Ball.

Antoni Sałaj (Poland) has successfully played parts in Dywizjon 303 Historia Prawdziwa by Denis Delić, and Legiony by Dariusz Gajewski. His language skills, Antoni speaks fluently English and French, had an overtone in productions such as Breaking The Band Season Ii: Guns’n’roses by Zoran Trajkovic; 7 Godzin W Pociągu by Miguel Velez. Worth mentioning is his work as Skirgaila – the polish king’s brother in the very successful epic series Korona Królów During his acting journey, he has also met with Oscar-nominated direction Bartosz Konopka in Netflix Original series The Woods.

Hanna Ardéhn (Sweden) grew up in the northern suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden and at a young age she became interested in movies and acting. She is best known for her role as Maja Norberg in the first Swedish Netflix original series Quicksand, which premiered in 2019. Ardéhn has appeared in TV productions Nio med JO, Dubbelliv, and 30 Degrees in February, an SVT series created by Anders Weidemann as well as the short film Lidingöligan which won the short story film award and in the feature films Krigarnas Ö, and 07X – Lika Barn Leka Bäst, both by Emil Jonsvik.

Henessi Schmidt (Estonia) has played in several theatre plays and TV dramas. Her recent works include the theatre play Tallinnville by Helen Rekkor and she played the lead role in Romeo And Juliet by Aare Toikka. In her 1st feature film Talve by Ergo Kuld (Kassikuld, Taska Film, ApolloFilm Productions), she played the lead role as Maie. In the previous years, she played in theatre plays such as Ilusad Inimesed by Piret Jaaks, Pariisitar and Dekameron both by Aare Toikka. She played also in several short films such as The Rave by Johannes Magnus Aule and Augusta Ehk Paradiisi Poliitika by Liina Siib.

Reimo Sagor (Estonia) has worked in numerous film, TV and on stage productions including films also presented at PÖFF: Nullpunkt, Must alpinist and Päevad, mis ajasid segadusse. His performance as the young struggling single father in Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo’s Take It or Leave It introduced him to mainstream audiences in Estonia as well as to a wider global audience. The film was Estonia’s foreign-language Oscar submission on its release year in 2018. Reimo’s recent works include Martti Helde’s feature Scandinavian Silence that premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (received Europa Labels Prize). Recently he was seen in the international spy thriller Hamilton starring alongside Jakob Oftebro and Katia Winter. Currently, Reimo is working on Ove Musting’s feature Kalev and the TV-series With One Eye Open, a Swedish contemporary action thriller set in 1996.

Simonas Mozūra (Lithuania) trained at East 15 Acting School in London and is a member of Vilnius Actor Studio. He was training to become a professional athlete, specializing in a long jump, but arts stole his passion when he began his career with a role in a stage play Fight Club in Lithuanian State Youth Theatre. He moved to the United Kingdom to study acting program that involved writing and directing, consequently, he was one of the founders of two theatre companies in the UK. Simonas landed his first feature film roles soon after graduation including Romas Zabarauskas’ The Lawyer, which was released earlier in 2020. He also worked with Richard Clemmow on BBC Radio 4 radio drama I’m A Slave. Soon he will be coming back as one of the leads in the third season of popular Lithuanian TV crime drama Cursed II.

Vika Sobol (Russia) started playing in a theatre collective when she was 8 and has continued her studies at New School of cinema in Saint Petersburg and also attended music school to learn “baroque singing”. Vika attended the masterclasses of Anton Adasinsky at Theatre Derevo and Andriy Zholdak. She played at re-known Moscow experimental Electrotheatre-Stanislavsky and in a lot of street performances of independent theatres. Vika feature debut as a lead actress was in Andrey Natotsinsky movie Katja.

Vladislav Kulygin (Russia) has dreamed to be on the stage or act on the screen since being a child. After he finished school, he enrolled at the Higher Theatre School by Mikhael Schepkin. During his student years, he gained some experience playing in The Tempest by W. Shakespeare and in Jester based on Til Ulenspiegel’s story. Recently, he played a part in the film called The New Wonder directed by Alexandra Strelyanaya.

2020 Programme

The four-day online event highlighted the emerging talent, based on the participants’ first film and TV roles and consists of masterclasses and networking events. The program focuses on the future of casting and auditioning online, presenting oneself at industry and media events, and Intimacy in front of the camera.


Saturday, 21 November

14.00- 15.30 Black Nights Stars Get Together and „How to present yourself in online one-on-one meetings with casting agents, casting directors and the press, part 1“with Bonnie Williams, a professional speaking and performance coach at Speaking with impact with Bonnie Williams, Netherlands. Closed event.

Monday, 23 November

10:00 - 13:00 One-on-one speed-dating session for Estonian professional actors with international agents and casting experts (with pre-registration).

• Kristina Kolytė, casting director at Editos Casting, Lithuania

• Magdalena Szwarcbart, casting director at Magdalena Swarzcbart, Poland

• Nancy Bishop, casting director at Nancy Bishop Casting, USA

• Piotr Bartuszek of Piotr Bartuszek Casting, Poland

• Raakel Huikuri, casting agent at Lisa Richards Agency/LR Nordic, Finland

• Robin Hudson, talent agent at Olivia Bell Management, UK

• Georg Georgi, talent agent and casting director, Das Imperium/Gretel & Hensel, Germany

• Julija Satkauskaite, casting agent at Baltic Actors Agency, Lithuania

• Monika Janas, casting agent at Coolkeyplay Talent Agency, Poland

• Rebecca van Unen, casting director, Oi Mundo Casting, The Netherlands

By appointment only, contact: Elo-Liis Parmas

14.00 - 16.00 „How to present yourself in online one-on-one meetings with casting agents, casting directors and the press, part 2“ with Bonnie Williams, a professional speaking and performance coach at Speaking with impact with Bonnie Williams, Netherlands. Closed event.

18.00 - 19.30 Black Nights Stars Get Together. Closed event.

Tuesday, 24 November

10.00 – 13.00 Black Night Stars online one-on-one meetings with talent agents and casting directors. Closed event.

14.00 - 16.00  Industry Talk with i.e. Georg Georgi of GRETEL & HENSEL casting agency & Das Imperium talent agency Berlin, David Zitzlsperger of Online platform Castupload, casting director Piotr Bartuszek of  Piotr Bartuszek Casting (Wild Roses, High Life), Simone Bär of Simone Bär Casting (Babylon Berlin, Charlie’s Angels, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inglourious Basterds) and others, about the future of online casting and auditioning, what impact this has on the way of working and how this is changing the casting business.

Join the event here

19.00 - 20.30 Panel discussion with a panel of US casting agents, casting directors, and talent managers about the way US auditions work and how casting directors find European actors. Moderated by casting director Lina Todd of Lina Todd Casting, USA, The Way Back (Peter Weir); Little Man Tate (Jodie Foster); A Good Day to Die Hard (John Moore), Crazy Alien (Hao Ning) with casting director Joseph Middleton (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Twilight: New Moon, The Bourne Supremacy, Legally Blonde, The Single Man), casting director Billy Hopkins Desperately Seeking Susan, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Mudbound), casting director Avy Kaufman (Life of Pi, Lincoln, Prometheus, Shame, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, The Sixth Sense, Dancer in the Dark), and NY-based talent agent Alice Whitley, a representative of talent in Hollywood Cynthia Campos-Greenberg.

Join the discussion here

Wednesday, 25 November

10:00-12:00 Workshop with casting director Tusse Lande of casting agency Kompani Lande, Sweden known for her work on Skyfall (2012), Specter (2015) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009): How to promote yourself in a competitive market and focusing how to present yourself in the best way with practical guidance how to make an “About Me Video”.

Join the workshop here

14.00 - 15.30 Masterclass for actors: „What makes a good casting? How will we work the coming time and what to be expected for actors“ with casting agents Robin Hudson, Olivia Blell Management, UK; Raakel Huikuri, Lisa Richards Agency / LR Nordic, Finland; Nancy Bishop, Nancy Bishop Casting Czech Republic/US; Magdalena Szwarcbart, Magdalena Swarzcbart, Poland; Piotr Bartuszek, Piotr Bartuszek Casting Poland; Kristina Kolyte Editos Casting, Lithuania; talent agent and casting director Georg Georgi Das Imperium / Gretel & Hensel. Q & A for the public.

Attend the masterclass here

Thursday, 26 November

14:30-16:00 Panel discussion: What casting directors can do for your project, securing cast and how to get the right actors for your project with casting directors Magdalena Szwarcbart, Magdalena Swarzcbart ,Poland; Georg Georgi, Das Imperium / Gretel & Hensel, Germany; Nancy Bishop, Nancy Bishop Casting; Kristina Kolyte, Editos Casting and Piotr Bartuszek, Piotr Bartuszek Casting; director and writer Jonathan Kesselman (The Hebrew Hammer) and producer Ivo Felt, Allfilm, Estonia, The Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated Tangerines (2013), The Golden Globe nominated The Fencer (2015) and Seenelkäik (2012). For producers and directors.

Join the event here

17:00 – 19:00 DEADLINE Talk with Tom Grater and the Tallinn Black Nights Stars. Q & A for the public.

Join the talk here

Friday, 27 November

11:00- 12:30 Webinar by Julia Effertz, Intimacy Coordinator, ‘Intimacy in front of the camera’. The focus of the online presentation will be on introducing participants to the topic, to the problems and challenges when dealing with intimate scenes, the role of the intimacy coordinator during production, as well as Best Practice recommendations and tools for industry professionals when working with intimacy in front of the camera.

Join the webinar here

The Black Nights Stars programme is presented by Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event during the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and the European Regional Development Fund funded project Creative Gate.

‘It was a tremendously gratifying experience to serve on the BLACK NIGHT STARS Jury to select stellar talent from the Baltics. Though all unique, they share an amazing presence, an unexpected force, mystery, soulful beauty, fierce intensity, intricate sensuality, and deepness which feels unique to their countries and still universal in their sincerity. It is of great value to the film industry to discover these marvellous and fresh artists who will shine, not just in their country, but internationally. To bring them to the film industry’s attention so they can further enrich our experience as audiences and bring us closer together is a treasure’.

Lina Todd, Lina Todd casting Agency New York

‘Black Nights Stars is a wonderful way to celebrate local and regional talent with the international market. It was a pleasure last year to be part of the panel and work directly with the actors – even signing one star to my agency!'

Robin Hudson, Olivia Bell Management, London, UK

I was amazed by how thoughtfully the Black Nights Stars Program was created and how professionally it was fulfilled. I am happy that I had a chance to meet the Black Nights Stars, to learn from great speakers in the masterclasses, panel discussions or workshops, and to share ideas with amazing and inspiring people from all around the world. Thank You so much for this gift. Highly recommended.

Kristina Kolytė, Edita’s Casting JSC, Vilnius, Lithuania


2019 Black Nights Stars Participants and Experts

The Black Nights Stars program took place from 25-27 November, 2019. Please find information on the 2019 edition of Black Nights Stars below.

Black Nights Stars 2019 Participants:

Black Nights Stars 2019 Jury:

Black Nights Stars 2019 Experts:

2019 Programme

The three-day lab highlighting the emerging talent consisted of a variety of events including masterclasses and networking events. The programme mainly focused on the casting and audition processes and presenting oneself outside a film set – at industry and media events.


Speed-dating session for Estonian actors with international agents and casting experts (with pre-registration)

Presentation by Vanessa Henneman of Henneman Agency: “What is and how does packaging of talent and projects actually work?” Talent agent’s aim is to match their talent with great projects and vice versa, that is the art of “packaging. How can agencies and producers work better together on an European level?

Masterclass with two-time Academy Award nominee Dante Spinotti about his work and experiences as a Director of Photography

Industry Talk with casting director Magdalena Szwarcbart, Poland, on her experience casting the films Cold War by Paweł Pawlikowski and Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg and the difference of working with European productions and US productions.

Workshop with Emmy-nominee Nancy Bishop: Two-hour seminar focusing on strategies for actors to promote themselves in an increasingly competitive market. The Internet is a great democratiser, offering endless possibilities for actors to get themselves seen


Black Nights Stars in 2019