International Jury

Udo Kier

Jury President
Udo Kier was born in 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. His entrance was just as dramatic as some of his roles. On the evening of his birth, Kier’s mother requested extra time with her new baby. The nurses had gathered all of the other babies and returned them to the nursery when the hospital was bombed. He and his mother were rescued from underneath the rubble. When Kier was 18 he moved to Britain in order to learn the English language, where he also took a few acting courses. He was eventually offered a role by director Michael Sarne as a gigolo in the film Road to Saint Tropez, which marked the beginning of his career in films. His first “hit” film was Mark of the Devil: rated “V” for violence, ticket buyers were offered vomit bags before the film started. It was banned in 31 countries but spawned two sequels (both without Kier). Kier met director Paul Morrissey on an airplane trip where Morrissey offered him the lead role in the 3-D Flesh for Frankenstein. It was this film, along with its sister film Blood for Dracula, that made Kier a cult figure. When Flesh for Frankenstein was finished, the cast and crew began immediately filming Blood for Dracula. Kier remembers both of these films fondly and regards Dracula over Frankenstein as his favourite of the two. In the 1970s some of Kier’s work included The Salzburg Connection, The Story of O, Spermula and Trauma. In the 1980s some of his work included Lulu, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (The Blood of Dr Jekyll), The Island of the Bloody Plantation (Escape from Blood Plantation) and Seduction: The Cruel Woman. In the 1980s, Kier did very little work outside Europe, whereas in the 1990s he had a lot more visibility in America and his breakthrough role was as Hans in My Own Private Idaho. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues reunited Kier with his friend Keanu Reeves yet again. In the 1990s some of the films he was in included The Kingdom, For Love or Money, Breaking the Waves, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Blade and Armageddon. Over his 50-year career, Kier has worked with several brilliant directors: Rainer Fassbinder, Paul Morrissey, Charles Matton, Dario Argento, Gus Van Sant, Barry Sonnenfeld, Walerian Borowczyk, Alexander Payne and Guy Madden, among many others. Kier continues to work often with Lars Von Trier and is the godfather of Von Trier’s child, as well as a good friend. Von Trier is currently working on a film entitled Dimension, which is a project that spans 30 years. Every year the cast and crew, including Kier, meet to shoot footage. The film will show the actors age 30 years without make-up or special effects. The premiere will take place in 2024! Kier’s acting career ranges from art house films (Europa) to gore fests (Blackest Heart (German Chainsaw Massacre)) to television commercials. He says he loves horror films and wants to do more of them. Kier enjoys playing villains, as he feels it is more interesting because evil has no limits. Udo Kier currently lives in California and spends much of his time working in Europe, where he receives larger roles and more recognition. Kier’s current films in release: Downsizing directed by Alexander Payne, Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot directed by Gus van Sant, Iron Sky 2 directed by Timo Vuorensola, Brawl In Cell Block 99 directed by S. Craig Zahler, Puppet Master – The Littlest Reich directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, and American Animals directed by Bart Layton, among many others. Kier’s films to be released in 2019: The Painted Bird directed by Vaclav Marhoul, Nighthawk directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho, Skin Walker directed by Christian Neuman, among others.

Sarah Adler

Sarah Adler is a French and Israeli actress, best known for her roles in Jellyfish, directed by Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, Stones, directed by Raphael Nadjari, Our Music, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Marie Antoinette directed by Sofia Coppola. 
Adler was nominated for the European Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in Our Music, and the Ophir Award for Best Actress for her performance in Jellyfish, which won the Cannes Film Festivals’ Caméra d’or.
 More recently, she has collaborated twice with Amos Gitai in his films Ana Arabia and Tsili, and the theatre adaptation of Rabin-chronicle of an assassination. 
In 2015, the film Aya in which Adler holds the title role, was nominated in the short film category at the American Academy Awards. In 2018, she was awarded the Best Actress prize for her role in The Cakemaker, and held the female lead in Foxtrot, winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Christos Georgiou

Christos Georgiou was born in London, in 1966. He received his basic education in Cyprus and studied at the University of Warwick (Film and Literature BA Joint Hons), the Northern Film and TV School in Leeds (MA Film Production), and in Poland at the National Film TV and Theatre School in Lodz (EU Tempus scholarship – Film Writing and Direction). He has directed, written and produced fiction feature films, documentaries, commercials and TV drama series for ARTE, ZDF, Al Jazeera, the BBC, as well as several Greek TV channels. Under the Stars, his first fiction feature film, won 6 international awards including the prestigious Prix de Montreal (Best First Feature Film) at the Montreal International Film Festival 2001. Small Crime, his second fiction feature film, was selected for competition at several film festivals including Palm Springs and Karlovy Vary, and was a box office hit in Germany in the summer of 2009. Happy Birthday, an official selection at Berlinale Co-Production Market, his third fiction feature film had its international premiere at Sao Paulo International Film Festival 2017. He is a founding member and a member of the board of the Hellenic Film Academy.

Hayet Benkara

French born and Toronto-based Hayet Benkara has years of international experience working extensively with some of the most prestigious festivals. After managing the Sales Office, the unofficial market, at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, she has been managing and producing all the Talent Development Programmes at TIFF including Studio, a year-round professional training programme for mid-career producers, directors and screenwriters and the Talent Lab. Benkara has worked for Cannes (Producers Network), Berlinale (Co-production market), IFFR (Rotterdam Film Festival), Locarno (Open Doors Lab), DFI (the Doha Film Institute), the Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Film Festival (Arab Emirates), the Guanajuato Film Festival (Mexico), T-Mobile New Horizon (Poland), Pristina Film Festival (Kosovo), the Bosphorus Film Festival (Turkey) and, recently, the Marrakech Film Festival (the Atlas Workshops). Because of her extensive knowledge of the international market place, Hayet is often hired as a Mentor, a Programmer and/or an Industry Advisor. She has been invited to many festivals to participate as a jury member and to conduct workshops for film students and professionals. Throughout her career, Hayet has consistently placed a high value on the quality of the relationships she has fostered and has developed an extensive network of contacts among artists and professionals working in virtually every aspect of the film industry in North America, Europe and the Middle East. She also created her company, Prodigy 360, to advise young and established filmmakers, producers and screenwriters on Development, Production, Co-production, Distribution, Marketing and Festival strategies.

Lisa Tsouloupa

Lisa Tsouloupa was born in Cyprus in 1972. She began her studies in Uppsala, Sweden and graduated in Interior Design from Accademia Cappiello, in Florence, Italy in 1995. Since 1999, she has been working in Cyprus as a freelance Production Designer for the local and international commercial industry. She is credited with numerous feature and short films in Cyprus, Greece and Sweden. Films she has worked on include The Palace, winner of the Best Short Film Award at Adelaide Film Festival 2011 and Sunrise in Kimmeria, winner of the Best Cypriot Film in Cyprus Film Days IFF 2018. In 2008, she was nominated for Best Production Design at Thessaloniki Film Festival for the film The Last Homecoming. In 2014, she received the Best Costume Award at Drama International Short Film Festival for the film The Immortalizer and, in 2016, she was nominated for Best Set Design by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation for the play The Palace of the End. She is a member of the European Film Academy.