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Morrison Foerster and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) Co-Host Panel on Next Gen Rising Stars & Skills for Tomorrow during 2024 Berlin International Film Festival

February 26, 2024

BERLIN (February 23, 2024) – On the occasion of the 74th Berlin International Film Festival, Morrison Foerster, a leading global law firm, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) continued their long-term cooperation by co-hosting another high-profile panel session titled “Next Gen Rising Stars & Skills for Tomorrow”.

The panel session, held at Morrison Foerster’s offices with a view of the Berlinale’s red carpet, was attended by more than 150 guests from the film & entertainment industry. Christiane Stuetzle, Partner and Co-Chair of Morrison Foerster’s Global Film & Entertainment Practice, opened the panel session on what skills it needs to become a rising star and that by all technical innovation, a human centric approach remains crucial.

Cherrie S. Daniels, Cultural Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, kicked-off the panel with inspiring introductory remarks, noting that motion pictures and series represent one of the world’s most creative and innovative industries and that film production has long been a driver of technological innovation. She emphasized that a balance between embracing the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence and encouraging thoughtful skepticism and human-centered policies is of crucial importance. She concluded with a special shoutout to the NextGen Rising Stars here and across the globe – for their commitment and passion to all that the magic of the movies stands for. Wolf Plesmann, in his capacity as managing director of the renown Berlin based DFFB film school outlined the need to also include lectures on technical skills as to empower talents to navigate through the technically shaped environment.

In his keynote speech, Chairman and CEO of the MPA Charles Rivkin said: “We have to think creatively about how to build a truly sustainable and diverse workforce of skilled creators. The MPA member studios are front and center, alongside our local partners, in the effort to recruit and train young talent. We need to ensure that the next wave of rising stars reflects the diversity of the world that we inhabit. It is important to engage these young minds and empower them with the tools they need to believe in themselves, and in their ideas”.

Following these inspiring opening remarks, presenters Sabine Henssler, Vice President Communications of MPA EMEA, and Christiane Stuetzle opened the panel discussion.

First off, Katharina Stark, one of the European Shooting Stars 2024. Stark has acted in films, TV and on stage, often at the award-winning Theatre Münchner Kammerspiele. She’s had lead roles in Dead Girls Dancing (Tribeca Film Festival 2022), Sturm und Drang, the ARTE/ZDF episodic I am the greatest and the 2023 German Disney+ original The Interpreter of Silence. “My advice to actresses and actors starting is to have mentors, to train and cross-cultural exchange. This is why the European shooting star program is such a perfect example, or film festivals, because we got to know the work and artists from countries, that you haven’t seen anything from before. You get to experience a lot of different perspectives through film.”

Gabriella Kramer-Khan, Creative Consultant, Global Talent Development & Inclusion in Working Title, Universal Pictures stated: “We are very excited about the recently launched Universal Global Writers Program in partnership with Working Title Films. It is yet another clear example of how Universal is nurturing emerging talent from different backgrounds and increasing accessibility to the industry on an international scale, which will no doubt continue to evolve in the future with the support of our amazing partners.

Jonathan Yunger, President of Los Angeles based Millennium Films and actor, who has worked on more than sixty films during his tenure at the company, shared impressive insights on his path to success. From arriving in Hollywood with nothing but the unbeatable optimism to make it there, to the first retention as an actor for a Pizza Hut commercial to now running the largest independent production company. As regards new technologies including AI, Yunger, who also operates arcanalabs.ai, embraces technical innovation, yet has a human centric approach, stating: “AI will not replace humans. But those who work with AI will replace those who do not work with AI”.

Tamara Denić, Writer & Director and Student Academy Award Winner 2023 for her short film Istina which was supported by Armin Schneider, Founder and Managing Director, Young Talent Foundation Berlin, who said “We at the non-profit Young Talent Foundation Berlin not only financially support the projects of young filmmakers but also consult them in many areas. The success story of Tamara’s Student-Oscar win last October is reason enough for us to continue with our work in finding, supporting and mentoring young film talent in Germany of all nationalities.”

Marcus Anthony Thomas, Writer & Director, who participated in a 16-month professional development programme with Warner Bros. Discovery where he shadowed showrunners and directors throughout Season 1 of HBO’s House of the Dragon which he described as career shaping for him. He has co-created the Director’s Take Podcast which aims to demystify the pathway to becoming a working director and sees technical skills as an important tool in the creative industry. The success is with him, Marcus has just completed his next project Space Plug through the Star Imagine UK Shorts Incubator programme.

Finally, special guest Rabeah Rahimi, director and producer, who fled with her family from Afghanistan, showed a trailer of her first short film with autobiographic traits. She described that after the hard experience of the escape from her country, she just follows her vision with self-confidence.

Following an insightful and lively discussion with the amazing panelists and an engaging audience, Henssler and Stuetzle concluded that profound mentoring programs, including on technical skills, are crucial to empower Next Gen Rising Stars on the path to their career. And that any technical innovation is a tool, which is and will remain powered by human skills.

The panel discussion was followed by a reception at the U.S. Embassy Berlin, hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Dr. Amy Gutmann, in partnership with Studio Babelsberg, the MPA, and Morrison Foerster. Legendary actress Sharon Stone attended the reception as a surprise guest. The reception was attended by high-profile guests from the international film and entertainment industry.

About Morrison Foerster

Morrison Foerster is a leading global law firm that transforms complexity into advantage for its clients. Our clients include some of the largest financial institutions, banks, consulting and accounting firms, and Fortune 100, technology, and life sciences companies. Highlighting the firm’s commitment to client service, leadership in market-changing deals and impact litigation, and values-based culture, Morrison Foerster has been named to The American Lawyer’s A-List for 20 of the ranking’s 21 years. Year after year, the firm receives significant recognition from Chambers and The Legal 500 across their various guides, including Global, USA, Asia Pacific, Europe, UK, Latin America, and FinTech Legal. Our lawyers passionately care about delivering legal excellence while living our values. Morrison Foerster has a long-standing commitment to creating a culture that respects and celebrates differences, while providing an inclusive environment. The firm has achieved Mansfield Certification Plus since 2018 as a result of having at least 30 percent women, minority, LGBTQ+, and lawyers with disabilities representation across notable leadership roles and within the partnership. For more information, visit www.mofo.com.

About The Motion Picture Association:

The Motion Picture Association, Inc. (MPA) serves as the global voice and advocate of the motion picture, home video, and television industries. It works in every corner of the globe to advance the creative industry, protect its members’ content across all screens, defend the creative and artistic freedoms of storytellers, and support innovative distribution models that bring an expansion of viewing choices to audiences around the world.

Its member studios are: Netflix Studios, LLC; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Universal City Studios LLC; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Charles Rivkin is Chairman and CEO.