The CIVIS Media Prize is the best prize in the world,” said Sandra Maischberger, the presenter? of the evening. It is a “prize with demeanour”. Many guests with demeanour from the areas of politics, culture and media came together this evening in the Weltsaal of the German Foreign Office in Berlin, where the European CIVIS Media Prize was awarded for the 31st time, sensitising the media and journalists to the topics of migration, integration and cultural diversity.
After a champagne reception they took their places at the tables in the festively decorated Weltsaal, where they were welcomed by Michael Radix, Executive Director of the CIVIS Media Foundation. He explained clearly why the CIVIS Media Prize makes an important contribution to the social discourse: Right-wing populist parties and groups are gaining ground throughout Europe, traditional norms and values are being gradually relativized and discussed controversially. The latest example in Germany was the “shameful comment” by the leader of the AfD, Alexander Gauland, who trivialised the National Socialist crimes as mere “bird droppings in 1000 years of German history”. “The media must react more sensitively to targeted provocations and should not allow itself to be instrumentalised when taboos are broken”. CIVIS aims to encourage journalists in this task.
The Director-General of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Tom Buhrow, who also chairs the board of trustees of the CIVIS Media Foundation, also emphasised the special responsibility of the media in the current social situation – and used a thought experiment to illustrate the power exerted by images. Instead of 1.8 million refugees and 83 million inhabitants, one should simply imagine a beach with 83 people, where they are joined by two more: “Well? Is the beach now overcrowded? Surely not,” said Buhrow. Also terms such as “streams”, “floods” and “waves of refugees” show how important it is to choose words and images carefully. “Many here in the room enjoy the privilege of being able to make an impact and reach people with their words and pictures.” The CIVIS Media Prize also honours the responsible treatment of language, images and stories. “It thus contributes to a debate on what good media can offer people in the future.”
This debate was also addressed by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign Office (Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, MdB), in his speech: “Although the excited public debate has calmed down since 2015, the integration of hundreds of thousands of refugees will continue to be an enormous task for our country for many years to come.” Nevertheless, he would like to see more stories about successful integration. “For these are an antidote to all those who, filled with hate for anything foreign, wish to concentrate on the unsuccessful aspects, which admittedly exist”. The CIVIS Media Prize is also such an antidote, said Roth. For this reason, Annette Widmann-Mauz, Minister of State, (MdB) and Integration Commissioner, also thanked the Federal Government, the CIVIS Media Foundation, and the committed media makers present. “Particularly in these times, we need your reports for an objective discussion.” The problems of integration should certainly also be addressed, but one should not forget to report on the many success stories.
Both patrons of the European CIVIS Media Prize 2018, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, praised diversity in their welcome speeches: “Diversity is potential,” said the Federal President. “I am grateful to the prize-winners of this year’s competition for developing this potential, and I extend my warm congratulations.” The CIVIS Media Prize draws attention to the actual circumstances and problems, said Tajani, “but also to the opportunities that arise from our diversity. Diversity is a valuable asset, when it is shared and appreciated by communities.”
The prizes were presented by Annette Widmann-Mauz, Tom Buhrow, Michael Roth, the Director(-General) of Deutsche Welle Peter Limbourg, the SRG Director of Development and Offering Bakel Walden, the Director-General of Deutschlandradio Stefan Raue, the Director-General of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) Patricia Schlesinger, the Commissioner for Integration on the German Football Association (DFB), Cacau, the Director-General of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Lutz Marmor and the President of the Foundation for professional training in cinema and audiovisual media FOCAL, Mariano Tschuor. Presenter Sandra Maischberger chatted with Bakel Walden about public service broadcasting in Switzerland in the wake of the No-Billag initiative against license fees; she asked Peter Raue about his favourite podcasts and Lutz Marmor about his favourite websites.
Competition was tough: It was possible to vote for five films online, including “Fack ju Göthe 3” by Bora Dagtekin, and “Aus dem Nichts” by Fatih Akin. Ultimately, the public chose the drama “Jugend ohne Gott” by Alain Gsponer, based on the novel of the same name by Ödön von Horváth. It involves a bleak picture of a future digital elite that is fully trimmed for efficiency. In an assessment camp the best pupils try to obtain one of the coveted university places. When a murder occurs, the cohesion of the youths appears to break. The jury saw in the film an “allegory of a social competition between people, intensified by digital disruption and transformation”. This “unsettling social drama” was “absolutely brilliant”, both cinematically and in terms of acting.
The documentary film “Calais, les enfants de la jungle” by France Télévisions was awarded the European CIVIS Television Prize 2018 in the information category. It shows the everyday life of children in Europe’s largest slum, the Jungle of Calais. It is a story of hunger, rape and death. Many of the children and adolescents, travelling alone, want to reach England, where they have family members. To do so, they risk their lives. The jury described the work by the authors Thomas Dandois and Stéphane Marchetti as “a great journalistic achievement – sensitive, moving, shocking”. In response to Sandra Maischberger’s question as to how they gained the trust of the children, Dandois replied: “We took a lot of time, since they had experienced so much that they no longer trusted anyone.”
The winner among the magazine reports of up to ten minutes in length was the reportage “Kroatische Hitlergrüße in Kärnten” (“Croatian Hitler Salutes in Carinthia”). In the weekly magazine “Report” by the Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), the author Cedomira Schlapper showed one of the largest neo-Nazi meetings in Europe. Every year, thousands of Croatian neofascists and right-wing radicals from all over Europe make the pilgrimage to Bleiburg, in southern Carinthia, Austria. Officially, the meeting is registered as a church event. When receiving the prize, Schlapper said that her report had made an impact: “Many more Austrians now know what’s going on.”
With “Three August Days”, the Television Prize jury honoured a submission to the entertainment category that it referred to as “highly relevant politically, while at the same time poetic”. In the short film for Estonian Public Broadcasting, the author, Madli Lääne, shows how a girl from Estonia meets a boy from Russia – in August 1991, as Estonia regains its independence after almost 50 years of Soviet rule. “Unbiased and with great lightness, the film addresses exclusion, rapprochement, prejudices and the possibilities of living together, said the jury.
This prize was already announced in advance: The short film “Elja – 376 A.D.” by the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy won the advancement award for TV and video productions, whose prize-winners may not be older than 32. In the film, director Willi Kubica and screenwriter Janosch Kosack show a refugee camp in the Roman Empire in 376 A.D. The Gothic warrior Elja must abandon her fight against the attacking Huns, and seeks protection in the Roman Empire. The Romans do not accept her as a warrior. The jury emphasised the analogies to present-day migratory movements: “Language barriers, unfulfilled expectations and fears shape the encounter between different cultured”. Furthermore, the film was remarkably well-crafted.
From the German-language radio features of up to six minutes’ length that were submitted, the jury chose Episode 4 of the podcast “Zum Beispiel Pfungstadt” (“For example Pfungstadt”), which is also played in the early schedule of the broadcaster hr-iNFO. In the podcast, author Riccardo Mastrocola shows how the small town in Hessen deals with refugees. Pfungstadt has three large hostels, each with more than a hundred beds. That triggers fears and worries among some local residents. “Pfungstadt stands for many communities,” said the jury. “The series presents an aural picture of the transformation – specific and atmospherically dense”. When receiving the prize, Mastrocola said: “We had the idea that the microcosm of Pfungstadt would also work for other communities.”
Of the radio submissions longer than six minutes, two were awarded with the European CIVIS Radio Prize 2018: The reportage “Verkauft, versklavt, missbraucht: Jesidinnen als Opfer des IS” (“Sold, enslaved, abused: Yazidi women as victims of IS”), by the Swiss radio broadcaster SRF2 Kultur, convinced the jury, because it gave the Yazidi women “an authentic voice”. Author Monika Oettli tells the story of the 17 year-old Schirin, who is enslaved and sold several times, and who later tries to overcome her trauma in Germany. “The reasons for flight become tangible,” said the jury. “Exciting, very moving – close to the people, without losing the necessary distance.” In retrospect, said the author in an interview with Sandra Maischberger, it is impossible to imagine what these women went through.
The ARD radio feature “Neun Stockwerke neues Deutschland (Gladbeck)” (Nine storeys of a new Germany (Gladbeck)”) also won the European CIVIS Radio Prize 2018 in the long programme category. In the feature from the series “Dok 5” by the radio broadcaster WDR 5, author Reinhard Schneider reports on the problems in a high-rise block in Gladbeck, in which 350 people live – half of them Germans, the other half migrants from around ten countries. He portrays social tensions, personal experiences and the challenges of so many different cultures living together – according to the jury “always on an equal footing with his protagonists”. The feature makes “audible that which is not visible”. Schneider said that he had already made a feature in this building in 2010 – and now wanted to return there, since in the meantime people from so many different nations had moved in.
In addition, with “ALYOM – Syriens Kinder, das Giftgas und wir” (“ALYOM – Syria’s children, poison gas, and us”), the jury also praises the third episode of the podcast by the Axel Springer Academy. Taking the example of the 12 year-old Yusuff Al-Yusuff, the academy trainees illustrate the fate of children in Syria. According to the jury, they make the consequences of war tangible: “It moved and impressed us emotionally”.
The special prize “Football and Integration”, staged in conjunction with the German Football Federation Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund, DFB), was awarded this year for the third time in a row. As well as the Young CIVIS Media Prize, the winners of the special prize were also known in advance: In the television category the award went to the documentary film “Heimat Fußball – Refugee 11” by author and director Jean Boué. It shows a football team in the lowest (last) German amateur league, Country league C – in which 27 refugees from 16 nations play. The film accompanies them in their first months in strange world – and shows their wishes, fears and dreams. The jury found this film “enlightening in the best sense”, since it gives the viewer an “insight into a little-known reality”.
“Refugee 11” is also the name of a web video series that received the special prize in the online category. The project by the German Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung bpb) brings together young refugee amateur footballers and professional players who were once also refugees. The exchanges about these experiences illustrate the issues of flight and asylum, and at the same time aim to dispel prejudices and counter the exclusion of refugees. According to the jury, “an outstanding video series with very personal stories – interactive, clearly structured, visually very convincing”. Footballer Cacau, who presented both CIVIS Special prizes as DFB Integration Commissioner, said: “Football can unite people; particularly at amateur level, football achieves a lot.”
The YouTube videoblog by Swiss Radio and Television “Tama Gotcha!” with Tama Vakeesan, who has Tamil roots, addresses life between cultures. The jury was impressed: “In her multimedia presence, Tama Vakeesan reports very authentically and enthusiastically of the cultural encounter between her Swiss and her Tamil cultures.” The discourse is clear and does not shy away from any topic – “very present, pleasant, highly professional”.
For the online format “Jäger & Sammler” (“Hunters & Gatherers”) by the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) and funk, the journalist, poetry slammer and YouTuber Nemi El-Hassan visited the neo-Nazi festival “Rock gegen Überfremdung” in the small Thuringian town of Themar. As a Muslima with headscarf she mixed with the crowd and asked around in the right-wing scene – “witty, confrontative, without fear,” as the jury found. In this manner she identified the rhetorical patterns of the neo-Nazis. “An outstanding journalistic achievement – wonderfully implemented visually”. El-Hassan told of her encounters, and that some people simply cannot be reached. “But we as a society need to keep looking.”