Special Guests

© Arno © M. Matschke © Lieblingsfilm © V. Helmer
© Arno © M. Matschke © Lieblingsfilm © V. Helmer

The 23rd Berlin & Beyond Film Festival warmly welcomes to San Francisco actor Bjarne Mädel, producer Philipp Budweg, director Kerstin Polte, and director Veit Helmer.


Bjarne Mädel was born in Hamburg in 1968. He studied acting from 1992 to 1996 at the Film University Babelsberg "Konrad Wolf" in Podsdam. From 1996 to 1999, his stage appearances included the Volkstheater Rostock and the Wiener Festwochen in Vienna. From 2000 to 2005, Bjarne Mädel was an ensemble member at the prestigious Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. He became known to a wider television audience from 2004 to 2012 as Berthold "Ernie" Heisterkamp in the series Stromberg (directed by Arne Feldhusen), which won several awards, including the Grimme Preis in 2006 and the Deutscher Fernsehpreis (German Television Award) in 2007. He has various cinema roles, including co-starring with Lars Eidinger in 25 km/ h (2017, Dir. Markus Goller), Different Kinds of Rain (2016, Dir. Isabelle Prahl), 24 Weeks (2015, Dir. Anne Zohra Berrached). From 2008 to 2014, he had a leading role in one of the most successful ARD series, Mord mit Aussicht (Murder with a View). With his series debut in Der kleine Mann in 2009, he was nominated for the Bayerischer Fernsehpreis (Bavarian Television Award) as Best Actor in the category Series and Comedy. His current series Der Tatortreiniger, about a unique crime scene cleaner, has received multiple awards, including the Grimme Preis in 2012 and 2013 for Best Series and Best Leading Actor.

The Berlin & Beyond Film Festival will honor Bjarne Mädel with the 2019 Spotlight Award in Acting on the occasion of the International Premiere of 25 km/h – at the festival’s Opening Night on Friday, March 8th at 6:30 PM.


Philipp Budweg is a producer and CEO of Lieblingsfilm. In the last ten years, he produced nine major films for family entertainment. The German-Polish co-production Winter’s Daughter (Berlin & Beyond 2011) won the 2012 German Film Award for Best Children’s Film. The blockbuster Gemstone Trilogy (Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green) were based on the bestselling books by Kerstin Gier and started the careers of young actors like Jannis Niewöhner. All three “Pasta Detectives” books by Andreas Steinhöfel were adapted for cinema, and the first film also won the German Film Award. Mountain Miracle, this year’s Youth 4 German Cinema winner, received accolades worldwide and was sold to many countries. His most recent film, Matti & Sami and the Three Biggest Mistakes in the Universe, was released in Spring 2018.


Kerstin Polte is a director, screenwriter and the CEO/creative director of Serienwerk. Her company has been awarded by the Federal Government as a “Kultur- und Kreativpilot” of Germany. She completed her film education in Quebec, Canada and her master's degree in Directing and Screenwriting at the Zurich University of the Arts. Her graduation film 510 Meters Above Sea Level was shown at over 150 festivals and received multiple awards, followed by another short film, Last Round, which premiered at Locarno. Her award-winning documentary, Everything But Oom-pa-pa - a film about the largest women's wind orchestra in the world - was largely released in German-speaking cinemas. Cloud Whispers, making its North American Premiere at Berlin & Beyond 2019, is her feature film debut and has already won the Award of the German Critics Association and the Bavarian Film Award. Her portrait about the queer-feminist rapper “sookee - von Seepferdchen & Schränken” is currently on its festival run.


Born in 1968, Veit Helmer directed his first film at 14. Before the Berlin Wall came down, he moved to East Berlin to study theatre directing. In 1991, he began studying at Munich‘s School of Film and Television. After numerous award-winning shorts, he made his feature debut with Tuvalu in 1999, which was shown at over 60 festivals and garnered 30 awards. Gate to Heaven (with Miki Manojlovic and Udo Kier) was made in 2003 in the underground level of Frankfurt airport. Behind the Couch (2005), about casting in Hollywood, was his first step into documentary filmmaking. His third feature Absurdistan premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival followed by several international awards. Baikonur (2011) was set in the Russian space port of the same name in Kazakhstan. His children‘s film Fiddlesticks was shown at over 97 festivals and won 21 awards. He has taught visual storytelling at several international film schools.