Martha Canga Antonio of Black named European Shooting Star


The star of Belgian movie Black has been named a European Shooting Star by the Berlin International Film Festival, the icing on the cake of two months of rave reviews for the 20-year-old actor

“Courage and determination”

The Berlin International Film Festival has named Mechelen-born Martha Canga Antonio as one of its 10 European Shooting Stars for 2016, a designation that has helped launch the international careers of many young actors in its 19-year history.

Shooting Stars is awarded to outstanding young actors just starting out in the film industry. “In Black, a story about gang violence in Brussels,” said the jury, “Martha gives an extraordinary debut as a modern Juliet. In her very first role, she already shows great timing, courage and determination – and a natural acting ability.”

The directors of Black, in cinemas now across Belgium, chose Canga Antonio (pictured) out of 450 young women who auditioned for a part in the film. Although she did not study acting and had no prior experience, she won the lead, playing 15-year-old Mavela so convincingly that she has earned rave reviews around the globe. The 20-year-old was named “one of nine up-and-coming actors to watch” by movie site Indiewire after the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

During casting, the directors, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, were having a hard time eliminating so many candidates, and it was Flemish director Hans Herbots (Bo) who told them to seriously consider Canga Antonio. “He saw that she had something disarming about her,” El Arbi told De Standaard.