On the Screen (MD2024/2)
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On the Screen (MD2024/2)

Saarbruecken (Germany) 2024

At Saarbruecken (22-28 January 2024), the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (Max Ophuels Prize), endowed with €2500 by the Katholische Erwachsenenbildung Saarland – Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft e.V. and the Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Evangelische Erwachsenenbildung im Saarland e.V., represented by the Evangelische Akademie im Saarland, was awarded to Jenseits der blauen Grenze (Beyond the Blue Border) directed by Sarah Neumann (Germany, 2024).

Motivation: This film captivated us with its narrative power and universal relevance. The overwhelming power of the film lies in its profound portrayal of the self-sacrificing and selfless nature of friendship. The main character is at an existential crossroads in her life. On the one hand, a sporting career and ties to family and home beckon, while on the other there is freedom and heartfelt friendship. This dualistic structure reflects the conflicts that people can encounter time and again on their journey through life.

The audience is taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride and witnesses the inner struggles of the main characters. The subtle staging and impressive acting lend this film a unique intensity. The camera work, the visual language and the music emphasise the inner conflicts and make them tangible. It is remarkable how the film manages to penetrate the different levels of human existence while maintaining a sophisticated cinematic level.

The film’s message encourages us to find true freedom in human relationships and deep friendship.

Members of the 2024 Jury: Georgi Abashishvili, Georgia; Philipp Huch-Hallwachs, Germany; Sabrina Maas, Germany; Tamás Novák, Hungary.

Berlin (Germany) 2024

At the 74th International Film Festival Berlin (15-25 February 2024), the Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, awarded its Prize in the International Competition to Keyke mahboobe man (My Favourite Cake) directed by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha (Iran, France, Sweden, Germany, 2024).

Motivation: The filmmakers show us how paradise can be created in your own backyard. It requires a little laughing, drinking, dancing, and, of course, eating cake. Yet it also needs a strong dose of resistance and the courage to move beyond the confining patterns of social and political life. While this small story is in Iran, it offers promises for connection and joy to anyone anywhere late in life.

In the Panorama, the Jury awarded its Prize, endowed with € 2.500 by the Catholic German Bishops’ Conference, to Sex directed by Dag Johan Haugerud (Norway, 2024). Motivation: This is a film about sex and gender, though no sex is shown. The filmmakers demonstrate how honesty and intimacy are vital to human relationships. Through slow pacing and humorous conversations, the film focuses our attention on the nuances of our social constructions of gender and sex, and more importantly, of love.

In the Forum, the Jury awarded its Prize, endowed with € 2.500 by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), to Marijas klusums (Maria’s Silence) directed by Dāvis Sīmanis (Latvia, Lithuania, 2024).

Motivation: This black and white film relates the real story of silent film actress Maria Leiko travelling from Germany to Soviet Russia and trapped by the regime. Maria and the Latvian theatre company in which she was enrolled become victims of the massive purges of this period. The jury appreciated the transformation of the main character who witnessed the evils of the system and eventually decided on choosing silence as a form of resistance against outrageous violence.

In addition, the Jury in the Forum awarded a Commendation to Intercepted directed by Oksana Karpovych (Canada, France, Ukraine, 2024).

Motivation: Conversations between Russian soldiers and their families were intercepted by the Ukrainian army. In this documentary, director Oksana Karpovych confronts recordings of those conversations with images of destroyed Ukrainian houses and villages, creating a collision and a striking portrayal of war.

The members of the 2024 Jury: Fr. Francesca Šimuniová, Czech Republic (President of the Jury); Jacques Champeaux, France; S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate, USA; Marta Romanova-Jekabsone, Latvia; Karin Becker, Germany; Anita Nemes, Hungary.

Fribourg (Switzerland) 2024

The Ecumenical Jury, appointed by INTERFILM and SIGNIS, at the 38th Festival international du Films de Fribourg (March 15-24, 2024) awarded its Prize of 5.000 CHF, donated by the Church Aid Organisations in Switzerland “Lenten Offering” and “HEKS/Brot für alle”, to the film “La Suprema” directed by Felipe Holguin Caro (Colombia, 2023).

Motivation of the Jury: Laureana, a young Colombian girl, leads her village of La Suprema in her dream of becoming a boxer. We were touched by the luminous simplicity and grace of this film, which is a beacon of hope. The difficult material conditions of this village community do not diminish its solidarity or its joy of existence. The film, set to a brilliant musical score, is a celebration of life.

Members of 2024 Jury: Anne-Cécile Antoni (France); Peter Dietz, Basel (Suisse) President; Julie Lagarrigue (France); Renata Werlen, Bern (Suisse).

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