The International Casting Directors Network proudly established the ICDN Best Casting Award in 2016, and has continued to recognize outstanding achievements in casting by our colleagues – members and non-members alike – every year since.
As of 2020, our award has a new name, the Semiramis Award for Best Casting, along with a statuette designed by Swiss master sculptor Peter Hartmann.
The ICDN’s purpose in creating this award was to shine a light on the pivotal role that casting directors play in the creative process of filmmaking. Unfortunately, our profession is systematically under-recognized within the film and television industry. Our goals are thus to increase the presence and prominence of casting directors at film festivals and, ultimately, to ensure that casting takes its proper place as a category at all the major international awards. BAFTA’s casting award, finally established in 2020, is a clear and strong step in this direction.
A visible presence of casting directors at any film festival is automatically an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of casting to quality filmmaking. To this end, we always create a rich programme of events around our award presentation. These events have been highly successful at previous festivals, and will surely continue.
- 2020 Élodie Demey (FR) for HORS NORMES by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano
- Co-casting by Marie-France Michel (FR) and Justine Léocadie (FR)
- 2019 Sara Törnkvist (SE) for BORDER by Ali Abbasi
- 2018 Francesco Vedovati (IT) for DOGMAN by Matteo Garrone
- 2017 Harika Uygur (TR) for MUSTANG by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
- 2016 Antoinette Boulat (FR) & Elsa Pharaon (FR) for STANDING TALL by Emanuelle Bercot
ICDN Workshops (2016 to 2019)
2019’s “Casting at the Heart of Filmmaking” programme included an international masterclass for Balkan actors (with the SFF as the primary sponsor), panel discussions with casting directors, and a Meals for Monologues charity event to aid refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Participating ICDN members: Corinna Glaus (CH), Nathalie Chéron (FR), Beatrice Kruger (IT), Piotr Bartuszek (PO), Marina Wijn (NL) and Sofia Dimopoulou (GR)
A case study on the casting of three films, with the two leading actors plus:
- ICDN member Francesco Vedovati (IT), casting director of DOGMAN and winner of the 2018 ICDN Best Casting Award
- ICDN member Magdalena Szwarcbart (PO), casting director of COLD WAR
- ICDN vice-president Timka Grin (BiH), casting director of NEVER LEAVE ME
- Aida Begic, director of NEVER LEAVE ME
A discussion headed by former ICDN Chairwoman Debbie McWilliams for visiting directors and producers: “How to use casting directors to your best advantage, from attaching your leads to assembling the perfect cast.”
Meals for Monologues, a charity event for the refugees of Bosnia-Herzegovina, sponsored by ICDN and Spotlight, where actors performed monologues before a panel of international casting directors in exchange for their donations of food, toys, toiletries and clothing for the refugees. All proceeds went to Sarajevo’s respected non-profit aid organization Pomozi.ba.
ICDN workshops, in which members worked individually with 15 professional actors from former Yugoslavia who had been selected by the festival, focusing on acting for the international market.
Participating ICDN members: Anja Dihrberg (DE), Tusse Lande (SE), Harika Uygur (TR), Nancy Bishop (UK/CZ), Lana Veenker (USA) and Beatrice Kruger (IT)
One-on-one meetings with ICDN members: organized by the festival’s industry section CineLink, producers and directors had the opportunity to discuss their upcoming projects with an international casting director.
A panel entitled “Profession: Casting Director” and a Q&A session for all festivalgoers at the Locarno Film Festival.
Three masterclasses on casting for the students of the Locarno Industry Academy.
A conversation entitled “Eyes on the Stars – Meet with ICDN Casting Directors” was exclusively for accredited producers and directors of the Locarno industry and formed part of the festival’s Alliance for Development project.
Participating ICDN members: Simone Bär (DE), Nancy Bishop (CZ/UK), Constance Demontoy (FR), Anja Dihrberg (DE), Corinna Glaus (CH), Timka Grin (BA), Debbie McWilliams (UK), Rebecca Van Unen (NL), Francesco Vedovati (IT) and Beatrice Kruger (IT).
A panel on international casting for Locarno Film Festival’s Alliance for Development project.
Participating ICDN members: Corinna Glaus (CH), Lana Veenker (US), Jeremy Zimmerman (UK), Annette Trumel (FR), Anja Dihrberg (DE) and Beatrice Kruger (IT).
History of the award
After establishing the ICDN in 1998 as an informal network, we continued to meet each February at the Berlinale during European Film Promotion’s Shooting Stars programme, and to collaborate with one another on co-productions throughout the remainder of the year.
Noting the lack of recognition of casting directors in virtually all major awards programmes, we set out to create the ICDN Best Casting Award, in order to raise awareness of our profession, and recognize the exceptional craft and talent of our colleagues around the globe.
We initially joined forces with the Locarno Film Festival, which hosted our very first award in 2016. Backed by the festival and the UK casting platform Spotlight, we also wanted to share our expertise via workshops, panels and other events. A significant achievement from that year was that the Locarno Film Festival adapted the template of their official festival catalogue so that the casting director is always named in the film description, together with the DoP, production designer and costume designer.
In 2017, the ICDN once again presented its Best Casting Award at the Locarno Festival, along with a cocktail reception, industry panels, and a masterclass for actors.
In 2018, we moved our award venue to the Sarajevo Film Festival, where we were able to accompany the award with an even richer programme of events. Sarajevo, too, adapted its official festival catalogue to list casting directors.
The SFF invited six ICDN members, organized an all-day ICDN masterclass for 15 regional actors, and hosted a prize-giving ceremony for the Best Casting Award, followed by a cocktail party. Our members also participated in various programmes including a Talent Campus lecture, a panel entitled “Coffee With…,” and a very interesting case study for the festival’s industry guests. The ICDN also hosted Meals for Monologues, a charity event for refugees, which was open to all interested actors.
In 2019, we became official partners of the Sarajevo Film Festival, once again offering our “Casting at the Heart of Filmmaking” programme, comprised of a three-day ICDN masterclass, a Meals for Monologues charity drive, an industry panel, the Talent Campus, dinners, red carpets and press events. The ICDN and SFF were fully involved from the beginning, with Spotlight once again there to support us.
Due to COVID-19, we presented our award virtually in 2020, in collaboration with Sitges Film Festival in Barcelona, where we also unveiled our official statuette and new award name: the Semiramis Award for Best Casting. Spanish actress Melina Matthews presented the honors at a hybrid live-and-online ceremony, with Barcelona-based ICDN member Luci Lenox on the red carpet.
As we emerge from the pandemic with renewed momentum and a new award moniker, exciting plans are underway for 2021, including an expanded and more visible programme, thanks to our continued partnership with Spotlight, and its new parent company, Talent Networks.