The 32nd CIVIS Media Prize award ceremony started with a special gesture: since the day of the award ceremony coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, a large banner was unrolled on stage reading: “Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar” – Human dignity shall be inviolable, the first fundamental right of the German constitution. Guests from the world of politics, media and culture, who had gathered under the chandeliers of the Weltsaal in the Foreign Office in Berlin, also held up signs reading the same sentence.
“For CIVIS, this is the most important fundamental right,” said Michael Radix, Manager at CIVIS Media Foundation, in his opening speech. The fact that the CIVIS Media Prize – which aims to raise the media’s and journalists’ awareness for the topics of migration, integration and cultural diversity – has already been around for 32 years is a “huge success”, said Radix. In addition, 2019 was a stellar year: “Every nomination is already a mark of distinction for an outstanding contribution that offers valuable inspiration.” This year, a total of 767 programmes from 22 EU member states and Switzerland were entered.
WDR director Tom Buhrow, who is also Chairman of the CIVIS Media Foundation Advisory Board, addressed the nominees in his speech: “You have all helped to uphold the things that keep us together.” Regarding the upcoming European elections, he said: “It is easy for us to recognise the diversity that Europe offers. Within our own society, many find it harder to accept this diversity.”
Politicians Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at the Foreign Office, and Annette Widmann-Mauz, Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration, also offered a few welcoming words. Both also mentioned human dignity – protected by the German Basic Law – and went on to speak about the entries. Widmann-Mauz said: “The CIVIS Media Prize appreciates the consolidation of diversity and is also an appeal to all Europeans.” Müntefering pointed out that “The contributions offer food for thought. And thinking is the best recipe for maintaining freedom and peace.”
Alexander Wrabetz, General Director at ORF, reminded everyone that freedom and peace are always at risk: “Public service broadcasters across Europe are under pressure. One of the reasons for this is that there are parties that have made the fight against public service broadcasters part of their political programme.” Until the “Ibiza affair” caused the collapse of the governing coalition, such a party was also part of the Austrian government. But the scandal has shown that people turn to the trusted public service broadcasters when important things are happening: approx. three quarters of all Austrians had looked for information on the matter on ORF, the Austrian national public service broadcaster.
This year, the patrons of the CIVIS Media Prize are the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas. In his speech, Tajani emphasised the importance of the role journalists play: we need to be give them the chance to “reflect matters of fact by facilitating unimpeded research.” He went on to say that the CIVIS Media Prize shows how reporting should work. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, described the nominated programmes thus: “The contributions provoke necessary discussions: society and politics need to keep challenging their attitudes and actions.”
The 32nd CIVIS Media Prize featured a new team of hosts: Pinar Atalay, Siham El-Maimouni, Cherno Jobatey and Reiner Reitsamer jointly presented the CIVIS Media Prize 2019. The televised award ceremony was broadcast on ARD/Das Erste and several other European TV channels.
The first prize of the evening went to the short film “Kippa” (Kippah), which tells the story of 14-year-old Oskar, who is mobbed and tormented by his classmates after they learn that he is Jewish. The story is based on an actual case that happened in Germany. Author Lukas Nathrath had read about it in the papers and then found out that this was not an isolated incident. Which is why he felt the urge to tell the story, he said when he accepted the award from Annette Widmann-Mauz. The jury including Pinar Atalay and Cherno Jobatey concluded: “The film poses important questions about the integrative capacity of German society. Impressive cinematography and outstanding acting.” The CIVIS YOUNG C. Media Prize honours film and TV contributions by entrants who are still training to be a journalist or who have only recently taken up journalism and are no more than 32 years old.
The Media Prize for European films in German cinema is voted for online by the audience. Five films were nominated. The drama “Der Trafikant” by director Nikolaus Leytner received the most votes. It tells the story of the friendship between an Austrian apprentice and Sigmund Freud a few years before the Second World War and just before Freud went into exile. The jury including Minu Barati-Fischer (German Producers Alliance) called it a film “for humanism and against racist agitation and discrimination.” Jörg Schönenborn (WDR) presented the award.
Jury member Roger de Weck pointed out that it was particularly hard to single out a winner from the outstanding entries in the category of Entertainment TV. Which is why, this year, there are two first prizes in this category.
One of the winners was the sixth episode of “Krieg der Träume: Versprechen” (Clash of Futures: Promises), an eight-part series by ARTE on the end of the First World War, when Europe became a lab of new societal models. Tom Buhrow presented the prize to the writers and directors Jan Peter and Frédéric Goupil. The jury including Roger de Weck, Bakel Walden (SRG, SSR) and Michael Loeb (WDRmediagroup) explained their decision as follows: “The film shows the strengthening of left- and right-wing populists and the increase in group-related agitation and hostility in historical terms. It clearly illustrates that each individual bears responsibility for social and political developments in his or her time.”
The other winner was the RTS TV film “Boomerang” by Jacqueline Surchat and Nicole Borgeat, which follows the story of a young xenophobic politician and an asylum-seeking young Muslim woman who accidentally switch bodies. The jury praised the comedy as “an imaginative utopia, insightful with lively dialogues, captivating wordplay and outstanding actors.” It concluded: “An outstanding film.”
The SWR report “Flüchtlingsretter in den Alpen” (Refugee saviours in the Alps) received the award for short programmes of up to ten minutes. Script writer and director Lourdes Picareta tells the story of people from Africa who try to cross Alpine passes – and how locals help them and thus become liable to prosecution. Picareta, who already authored many films about refugees, was presented with the prize by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering. Jury member Bakel Walden concluded: “An impressive, visually stunning film – an outstanding journalistic accomplishment.”
The award in the category of Information went to the ZDF documentary “Als Paul über das Meer kam” (When Paul crossed the sea). ORF General Director Alexander Wrabetz presented the award to writer and director Jakob Preuss, who met the refugee Paul Nkamani in Morocco and accompanied him on his odyssey via Spain to Germany – until he had to ask himself whether he should just observe or try and help. In the end he helped. When asked whether he would do that again, Preuss answered: “I would do it again. You can’t help but be human in such a situation.” The jury commented: “The boundaries of journalism between documentation and expected assistance become apparent. An outstanding film.”
The Web Video prize went to Funk (ARD/ZDF) and their contribution by Jäger & Sammler: “Stadt. Land. Heimat.” (City. Country. Community.) NDR Director Lutz Marmor presented the award to Mirjam Wlodawer, Maxi Garden, Kosei Takasaki and Tarek Tesfu. For their film, they had interviewed people from all across Germany, showing that everyone defines home differently. The jury members Jo Groebel (Deutsches Digital Institut) and Schiwa Schlei (WDR) praised: “A web video that tackles the hot topic of what home and community actually means – brilliantly staged in a humorous, light and clever way.”
In the Internet Offer category, the award went to “Festung Osteuropa – der letzte Gegner” (Fortress Eastern Europe – The Final Opponent) from the SPIEGEL-ONLINE series “Weitwinkel”. It illustrates the situation and the humanitarian challenges faced at the Eastern external borders of the EU. Musucian Miroslav Nemec presented the award to Bartholomäus von Laffert, Moritz Richter and Paul Lovis Wagner. The jury praised “the professionally linked interviews as well as the videos and precise text elements that provide an insight into touching human fates and the armament of the military EU border regime towards a “European Fortress”.
The winning contribution in the category German language radio programmes of up to six minutes was the ORF interview with Gottfried Waldhäusl (FPÖ) – member of the provincial government and responsible for asylum policy – about an asylum seekers’ shelter in Lower Austria. Deutschlandradio Director Stefan Raue presented the award to writer Paul Schiefer, who accepted it on behalf of himself and co-author Bernt Koschuh for their contribution: “Asylquartier: Wie ein Gefängnis – eine Schande für Österreich” (Asylum district: like a prison – a disgrace for Austria). Jury member Jona Teichmann (WDR) praised the contribution as: “Very objective, critical and reactive – of high cognitive interest. Within a short period of time, the interviewee’s point of view is illustrated in a stark way. There is room for the listeners to form their own opinion. An impressive journalistic feat that makes an impact. The asylum seekers’ shelter was shut the same day.”
The winner in the category of Long Programmes and Podcasts of up to 120 minutes was the Deutschlandfunk Kultur audio feature “Bella Palanka – Abgeschoben ins serbische Nirgendwo” (Bella Palanka – Deported to nowhere in Serbia): writer and director Johanna Bentz accompanies Emrah Gradina, who has lived in Germany for 22 years and who, after a stint in prison, is deported to Serbia, where he has to rebuild his life. Jury member Barbara Weinzierl (ORF) praised the entry for its “concise and precise language. The feature provides a sensitive insight into the young man’s environment and what it is like to live life without prospects – regardless of any questions of guilt. In addition, Bentz clearly addresses the proximity and distance she feels towards her protagonist.” Andreas Freudenberg (Freudenberg Foundation) presented the award.
For the fourth year running, the special prize “Football + Integration” was awarded by CIVIS and the DFB (German Football Association). Cacau and Stephanie Schulte presented the awards.
Two first prizes were awarded in the category DIGITAL. Düzen Tekkal, Tugba Tekkal and Tuna Tekkal accepted the award for their video “Scoring Girls” about the eponymous sport and integration project by the club Hawar Help. Up on stage, they talked about how their love of football brings together Yazidi, Muslim and Christian girls and young women. The jury including Ralf Köttker (DFB) and Frederike Behrends stated: “The video gives an insight into the context of the players without using common role models. It shows the integrative power of football. Great dramaturgy – impressive in content and form.”
The Funk (ARD/ZDF) web video “Wumms: Monsters of Kreisklasse: Religionen (Monsters of Kreisklasse: Religions) by Steffen Heisterberg, Jesko Friedrich and Dennis Kaupp also won first prize. “In the ‘social media cartoon series’, a typical substandard amateur football team competes against the religions team and suffers a bitter defeat,” the jury summarised the plot. A contribution “for more ease and tolerance when it comes to dealing with religions – without losing dignity. Impressive in both form and content.”
The Deutschlandfunk feature “Ein Rom träumt von der Champions League – die ungarische Fußball-Legende Istvan Mezei” (A Roma dreams of the Champions League – the Hungarian football legend Istvan Mezei) won in the AUDIO category. Writer Mirko Schwanitz was thrilled to receive the award for his contribution about the football activist, who founded the country’s first Roma team. According to the jury, it is “an exciting panorama of Central European history, brilliantly told.”
In the category TV.VIDEO, the CIVIS SPECIAL “Football + Integration” Media Prize was awarded to the SVT documentary “Zlatan: For Sweden – with the times” by Leo Razzak and Nils Andersson. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the world’s best footballers, has become Sweden’s immigration history personified and shows the integrative power of European football. The jury concluded: “Outstanding in form and content.”