On the Screen (MD 2020/1)
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On the Screen (MD 2020/1)

Warsaw (Poland) 2019


At the 35th International Film Festival Warsaw 11-20 October 2019, the award of the Ecumenical Jury went to Omar ve biz (Omar and Us) directed by Maryna Er Gorbach and Mehmet Bahadir Er (Turkey, 2019).

Motivation: The contact with two Syrian refugees leads a retired Turkish police commander to gradually reconsider his prejudices. The film shows that people can help each other despite cultural, religious and national differences. There’s no “us and them” – we are one.

The jury found particularly important that the two Syrians are played by real refugees, therefore they couldn’t attend the Warsaw Film Festival. What is more, this Turkish film assumes specific value by the current historical moment for the region.

Members of the 2019 Jury: Stefan Affolter, Switzerland (Jury President); Beata Hyży-Czołpińska, Poland; Arnaldo Casali, Italy.


Lübeck (Germany) 2019


At the 61st Nordic Film Days Lübeck held 29 October to 3 November 2019 the INTERFILM Jury awarded the Church Film Prize, endowed with € 5000 by the Protestant Church in Lübeck and Lauenburg, to Bergmál (Echo) directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson (Iceland, France, Switzerland, 2019).

Motivation: The INTERFILM Jury awarded its prize to a film that uses innovative cinematic language to tell a series of small stories of human life. The film reminds us that every human being needs relationships, understanding, forgiveness and love.

The members of the 2019 Jury were: Johannes Feisthauer (Germany); Håkan Holmlund (Sweden); Petra Kallies (Germany); Ieva Pitruka (Latvia).


Leipzig (Germany) 2019


At the 62nd International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (DOK Leipzig), which took place October 28 – November 3, 2019, the Interreligious Jury awarded its Prize to Exemplary Behaviour (still below)directed by Audrius Mickevičius and Nerijus Mileriusi (Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Italy, 2019).

The Prize was endowed with € 2500, donated by the Interreligious Roundtable Leipzig and the VCH-Hotels Germany GmbH in the “Verband Christlicher Hoteliers e.V.” including the Hotel Michaelis in Leipzig.

Motivation: Solidarity has no borders and this work depicts a common pain. Exemplary Behaviour opens the window of the prison in a powerful artistic style, showing us the humanity of people sentenced to life behind bars.

Synopsis: Having experienced the loss of a murdered brother, director Audrius Mickevičius went to the Lukiškės prison to examine the paradox of “exemplary behaviour”. Mickevičius met Rimantas and Rolandas, sentenced to life but driven by the hope of change. Mickevičius himself experienced the journey from anger to forgiveness, which was interrupted by his terminal disease. Exemplary Behaviour, completed by its script editor Nerijus Milerius, explores the ideas of forgiveness and social justice.

The Members of the 2019 Jury were: Tom Alesch, Luxembourg; Aurite Kouts, France; Majid Movasseghi, Switzerland; Anne-Kathrin Quaas, Germany.


Cottbus (Germany) 2019


At the 29th FilmFestival Cottbus Festival of East European Cinema 5-10 November 2019, the Ecumenical Jury appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS awarded its Prize to Pun mjesec (Full Moon) directed by Nermin Hamsagić (Bosnia and Hercegovina, 2019).

Motivation: A policeman is on duty in his station while his wife is delivering their child in the hospital. During his night shift he faces the everyday corruption of the system. By listening to the arrested persons, he changes his attitude wishing to leave to his child another society. In a convincing artistic manner the director succeeds in showing the narrowness of the situation as well as the perspective for hope.

Synopsis: Hamza is irreplaceable. The young policeman just about manages to deliver his heavily pregnant wife to the maternity ward before his night shift begins. At the station the usual problems await: generally his colleagues are willing to help overcome these in return for bribes, Hamza however resolves to escape the cycle of corruption.
Members of the 2019 Jury: Gaëlle Courtens, Switzerland (President of the Jury); Julia Laggner, Austria; Bojidar Manov, Bulgaria; Théo Peporté, Luxembourg.

Mannheim-Heidelberg (Germany) 2019


At the 68th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg November 14-24, 2019, the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize, endowed with €2500 by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Catholic Film Organisation in Germany, to the film Rona, Azim’s Mother (Rona, Madar-e Azim) directed by Jamshid Mahmoudi (Iran, 2018).

Motivation: In the city’s metabolism, work in the essential sewer system provides a basic lively hood for Afghani Azim and his family in Iran. Azim’s capacity to bear suffering seems boundless. What finally breaks his strength and resolve, as well as his set of values, is the collapse of his mother’s metabolism, a life-threatening failure that can only be treated with a kidney transplant by donation.

Traditions and laws, conscience and the need to survive, love of one’s mother, feeding the family, living without rights but with a sense of duty, flight, patriarchal decision making, nationalism and religion collide with Iranian theocracy. The right to pursue life and survival are nonetheless sacrosanct.

The film moves us because Azim is amongst us, in our society, within each of us. How do you live with death, when does life end, how far are you willing to go for what and who is holy to you? The path to the end of life can only be taken, when we hold on to one another in love and let each other go in love.

In addition, the Jury awarded a Commendation to The Grizzlies directed by Miranda de Pencier (Canada, 2018). Motivation: The film takes place amongst the Inuit, who across generations are still traumatized by the forced assimilations of the past. This is a story based on actual events, of a non-Inuit, a white teacher who is full of illusions, and whose theoretical teaching ethos is confronted with the unusually high number of suicides among young Inuits in particular.
Everything in his classroom changes as he introduces Lacrosse as part of the curriculum, a sport that historically helped settle differences between Native American tribes. With this change and through the values of the sport, pupils are able to find a way out for themselves, towards respect for the essentials in their traditional values of family and community.

Members of the 2019 Jury: Lothar Strüber, Germany – President of the Jury; Alexander Bothe, Germany; Guido Convents, Belgium; Arielle Domon, France; Mirko Klein, Germany.


Saarbrücken (Germany) 2020


At the 41st Film Festival Max Ophüls Prize Saarbruecken held 20-26 January 2020, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, endowed with € 2500 by Catholic and Protestant Adult Education in the Saarland, was awarded to Jiyan, directed by Süheyla Schwenk (Germany, 2019).

Motivation: A powerful intimate play, which is further enhanced by the interaction of camera and setting. Both the handling of prejudices in the family system as well as degrading social realities are brought to light. It is precisely the refusal of unnecessarily large dramatic sequences in favour of a focus on everyday worries and hardships in the private sphere that brings the protagonists closer to us as human beings.

Cleverly written, the film tells the life of a young Syrian/Kurdish family with their relatives in Germany. In the end the question is: What is the value of a human life?

The Members of the 2020 Jury: Hermann Kocher, Switzerland; Théo Peporté, President of the Jury, Luxembourg; Birgit Persch-Klein, Germany; Marisa Winter, Germany.


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