Young Guns 21: Marleen Valien

By Alixandra Rutnik and Brett McKenzie on Nov 01, 2023

Get to know the phenomenal class of Young Guns 21

After 85 incredible finalists and intense deliberation, the Young Guns jury has narrowed it down to the 29 winners that make up the class of Young Guns 21. An astounding collection of animators, illustrators, film directors, typographers (a few Ascenders 2023 winners as well!), graphic designers, and photographers make up YG21.

Every year we interview the Young Guns winners to get to know them better as artists and people. And as always, we are welcoming another class of outstanding individuals into the highly coveted Young Guns community.

Now that you know the YG21 winners better, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating them in person at NYC’s Sony Hall on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 6:30 PM. See you in two weeks and get ready to party!

Marleen Valien


Berlin, Germany


Berlin, Germany


When did you first learn about Young Guns?

I learned about Young Guns while studying film, but it seemed very far away for me. So I never thought about actually getting into the next round or even winning Young Guns.

How did you end up in the creative field anyways?

I started studying Communication and Media at the University of the Arts in Berlin, and after that, I wanted to go more towards film. I applied to the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg and luckily they accepted me. From that point on it was a lot of learning by doing. They give you a lot of freedom in what kind of movies you want to make. I got to meet a bunch of really cool people I still work with on my films to this day.

Congrats on the W! Why did you decide to enter this year?

I was lucky that my production company, Anonymous Content, entered my work. I never thought that Young Guns would accept me! Thank you, very much!

You only get to submit six projects that embody you and your talent. The best of the very best. So, how did you decide which pieces were good enough to make the cut?

I think these six films of mine are a good representation of my work. They are an indication of my way of thinking and what kind of topics I am interested in. When I start writing or directing a project, I like to choose a story that combines emotions or thoughts that I or friends of mine have gone through.

What was your reaction when you discovered that you won?

I was super honored and didn't even think about making it to the next round, to be honest. My grilled cheese sandwich I ate at that moment tasted even better.

In what ways does your hometown inspire your creativity as an artist? What about your current city? Is it a place?

Berlin is a really good place to watch people. Sometimes you go shopping and overhear a strange conversation that could already be a scene for a movie. But also watching a lot of films and TV shows or reading books is a good way to get new inspiration. Or anything Phoebe Waller-Bridge or Greta Gerwig is working on.

Now that you’re a part of the Young Guns community, are there any past winners you look up to and admire?

The Daniels, (YG14). In all their work, and especially in their latest film, they show how well they can combine a strange premise with real emotion. Ultimately, this is the kind of cinema I want to make in the future.

Kelia Anne MacCluskey, (YG20). Kelia's combination of how she reflects the personalities and how she stages them as characters in her photography is stunning. Simple, yet profound.

Alfred Marroquin, (YG21). I really like the worlds Alfred opens up in his movies. It's the perfect blend of classic cinema, emotion, and good lighting.

If you could create a new Young Guns tradition, what would you want it to be and why?

For each year bring out a bottle of champagne or wine that will be called the best vintage of 2023.

Name a creative and professional dream project that you have yet to fulfill — maybe Young Guns will propel you in that direction!

I want to direct a James Bond movie one day. There have been few, if any, female directors in that genre in the last decade. There are not enough action films directed by women. I want to see more of that.

I would also like to do a series with HBO. It is what it is, but HBO has done most of my favorite shows. You can see how they put their time and creativity into the development process to make it the best it can be. Most of the time when I watch their shows, you can see and feel how they push the level of creativity with their writers, creatives, and directors to the maximum. And I think that's how I define filmmaking and what I want to do in the future.

"I would also like to do a series with HBO. It is what it is, but HBO has done most of my favorite shows. You can see how they put their time and creativity into the development process to make it the best it can be."

This is YG21, but what do you imagine you’ll be up to when YG31 rolls around in 2033?

I would like to come close to, if not fulfill, some of my dreams mentioned above. And personally, I would love to find an affordable apartment in my hometown Berlin.

Will we see you at the YG21 party in NYC in November?

I hope so!



Come party with us and celebrate all the Young Guns 21 winners on Wednesday, November 15 at Sony Hall! See you at 6:30 PM in NYC!

Get tickets! It's party time!

The class of Young Guns 21



Fire + Fragility: Zuzanna Rogatty's YG21 Cube Design
Young Guns 21: Max Amato
Young Guns 21: Justin Au
Young Guns 21: Tess Ayano







Follow Us