On the Screen (MD 2023/3)
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On the Screen (MD 2023/3)

Fribourg (Switzerland) 2023

The Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, at the 37th Festival international du Films de Fribourg (March 17-26, 2023) awarded its Prize of CHF 5.000, donated by the Church Aid Organisations in Switzerland “Lenten Offering” and “HEKS/Brot für alle”, to the film Abang Adik (Malaysia, 2023) directed by Jin Ong.

Motivation: Two young sans-papiers try to survive in a large Malaysian city. The older, deaf-mute Abang, protects and feeds the younger Adi, who is always on the edge of illegality. We are impressed by the light-footed, fluid narration, the inspiring acting, the images full of warmth, the skillful use of sound and music: a flawless work, completely rounded.

The film is a plea for justice and human dignity, and it shows, in a universal way, strong solidarity among the marginalised of society. Their tragic life situation is illuminated by love and tenderness.

Members of the 2023 Jury: Philippe Cabrol (France), Stefan Haupt (Suisse) President, Bernadette Meier (Suisse), Florence de Tienda (France

Nyon (Switzerland) 2023

The prize of the Interreligious Jury at the 54th Festival Visions du Réel, Nyon (21-30 April 2023) went to Pure Unknown directed by Valentina Cigogna, Mattia Colombo (Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, 2023).

The film depicts the professional, empathetic and committed work of Italian forensic doctor Cristina Cattaneo, who has made it her duty to identify the bodies of “complete unknowns” found by the police. The camera moves with delicacy and modesty through the autopsy rooms and interviews with the relatives of the missing, highlighting the profound humanity with which the doctor invests her gestures and words.

The film is a witness to Cristina’s contacts with a member of the European Parliament and opens up in an unexpected way to the question of migration and the suffering it generates. Informing families of the death of their loved ones in the Mediterranean Sea is the last possible act of respect in a world torn apart.

The Interreligious Jury includes a representative of a member of INTERFILM and SIGNIS and a member of Jewish and Muslim faith. The 2023 jury consisted of Alain Nicolas Besson. Switzerland (President); Linda Dombrovszky, Hungary; Garance Hayat, France; Mohammad Rezaeian, Iran/Switzerland.

It awards a feature-length film from the international competition consisting of 14 films, that sheds light on existential, social or spiritual questions as well as human values. The prize of CHF 5’000 is donated by the Swiss Roman-Catholic Church (RKZ), and the Media Department Média-pro of the Reformed Churches in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (CER), and is also supported by the Swiss Protestant Church (EKS) and the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities.

Oberhausen (Germany) 2023

At the 69th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (26 April to 1 May 2023), two ecumenical juries were accredited, for the International Competition and for the International Children’s and Youth Film Competition.

The prizes of both juries were endowed with € 1500 each, donated by the Protestant Church District Oberhausen and the German Bishops’ Conference.

The Ecumenical Jury of the International Competition awarded its Prize to Let’s be friends directed by Arno Coenen and Rodger Werkhoven (Netherlands, 2022).

Motivation: This year the Ecumenical Jury decided to recognize the courage and the contribution to the development of a future path for the entire film industry. Our winner movie impressed all of the team members with a relevant topic, meta ironic approach, integrity and completeness of the theme revelation. In an experimental yet persuasive way, the filmmakers managed at the same time to create a statement and argue on it also establishing a vividly impressive visual style. We greatly appreciate the brave gesture and significant input into the discussion of modern technologies (AI) that influence our everyday life more and more, while occasionally leaving us with a feeling of powerlessness.

In addition, the Ecumenical Jury awarded a Commendation to Every Sunday, GrandMa directed by Laure Prouvost (France, Belgium, 2022).

Motivation: We would like to award a Commendation to a film which left an unforgettable impression on the whole female part of our jury and both Christians, too. The representation of a woman of age in such a delightful and playful way sets a new tone for the film industry. Previously unfairly forgotten and now rising again with all the power of beauty, the aging woman becomes a new trend for the youth-obsessed male-biased world of cinema. Thank you for your inspiring masterwork, dear Laure Prouvost.

The Ecumenical Jury of the Children’s and Youth Film Competition awarded its Prize to Le jour de gloire (A Glorious Day) directed by Romuald Rodrigues Andrade and Ludovic Aklil Piette (France, 2022).

Motivation: 20-year-old Kamel and his friends have a plan: They want to make their city a place worth living in for everybody. But they are faced with the harshness of an adult world where good ideas are not enough to succeed. When they are dismissed as unimportant, they do not lose hope and are determined to fight for a better tomorrow.

A Glorious Day depicts impressively an overtly relevant matter for children and youth in times of multiple crises: How to participate in society while being marginalized due to their age, their social background, or their lack of political experience? We see how family can both be helpful and destructive at the same time for young people trying to establish themselves – and how solidarity outweighs personal needs. The well-executed script, the outstanding acting, and the ability of telling a universal yet complex story through a seemingly small event convinced the jury of this film as much as young Kamel is convinced of community organizing as means towards self-efficacy.

The 2023 jury members of the International Competition were: Christian Gürtler, Germany; Polina Kundirenko, Germany/Ukraine; Christian Murer, Switzerland. The jury 2023 members of the Children’s and Youth Competition were: Anna Grebe, Germany; Suzana Kokalj, Slovenia; Maxime Pouyanne, France.

Cannes (France) 2023

The Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize to Perfect Days directed by Wim Wenders (Japan, Germany, 2023).

Perfect Days is a masterpiece of the cinematographic arts with jewellike and poetic qualities. Through the different characters, the author communicates a powerful story of hope, grace and transfiguration in everyday life. The dignity that emerges from the pride of doing work well and the respect and care for children and adults, plants and  trees, and a deep sense of awe, portrays as universal values that are lacking in contemporary society. We find that this film is pure grace.

In addition, the Jury awarded a Commendation to The Old Oak directed by Ken Loach (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, 2023).

Motivation: The film is a powerful depiction of current issues of migration, populism and solidarity in local communities. People coming together in compassion to share meals and struggle through life’s challenges.

The members of the 2023 Jury: Nestor Briceño, President of the Jury (Venezuela); Katia Margerie (France); Alberto V. Ramos Ruiz (Cuba); Joel Ruml (Czech Republic); Jane Stranz (England).

Zlín (Czech Republic) 2023

The Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, at the 63rd International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlín 2023, awarded its Prize to Juniors directed by Hugo Thomas (France, 2022).

Jordan and Patrick live in a small village in the south of France and feel pretty bored. The only thing they enjoy is Call of Duty, a popular war video game. But one day a tragedy occurs. Set up as a comedy, the film raises the themes of friendship, guilt, taking on responsibility and the search for forgiveness and life purpose. The director has displayed admirable sensitivity with regards to timing. And he has succeeded perfectly in the challenge of working with talented non-actors.

In addition, the jury awarded a Commendation to the film Sweet As directed by Jub Clerc (Australia, 2022).

Young people on a road trip through the Australian outback. Their encounter in the countryside develops into a healing situation for them all. They learn to tell their own story. The commendation also recognises the director’s amazing camera work and her respect for the landscape, the culture and her own origins.

Members of the 2023 jury: Gundi Doppelhammer (Germany), President; Ida Tenglerová (Czech Republic); Théo Péporté, (Luxembourg).

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