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CIVIS Media Prize 2024

It is both a tradition and a premiere: it is the thirty-sixth time that the Media Prize for Integration and Cultural Diversity is being awarded. For the first time, the event is taking place as part of re:publica, the key festival for the digital society. The venue has changed accordingly: presenter Vivian Perkovic welcomes the award candidates and the audience in Hall 4 of STATION at the Berlin Gleisdreieck.

The former post and railway station displays a rather rough charm, with lots of exposed brickwork, heavy metal struts and other architectural remnants of bygone railway times. Not noble, not comfy or cosy, but characterised by architectural traces of solid industrial work. This STATION is not a closed-off capsule for insider discussions. It is accessible from an outside world that addresses the issues close to the hearts of both CIVIS and re:publica. ‘There is a lot of overlap between this great social conference, which has been very committed to topics such as the immigration society for years, and CIVIS,’ says Ferdos Forudastan, Managing Director of the CIVIS Media Foundation.

In other words: it fits. Just like the motto of this year’s re:publica: Who cares? Which could mean Who gives a damn? But also: Who takes care? CIVIS, explains Perkovic, takes care and has done so from the very beginning. “How can the media contribute to the peaceful coexistence of people from different backgrounds and living situations? And how can we educate people when it comes to racism, anti-Semitism, antiziganism or right-wing extremism?” These are questions that fit well at re:publica because they are just as relevant to the digital world as they are to the analogue world.

‘Such topics need to be discussed in public, and CIVIS helps enormously in this regard.’
Stefan Raue
Director General of Deutschlandradio

The first winner of the evening shows that these are not shallow topical issues, problems that can be solved once and for all. And the people out there, the users, are well aware of this. The winner of the cinema film competition has once again been chosen democratically by audience vote and, like all award winners, is presented by actress Melika Foroutan, the ‘woman who makes things really exciting tonight’ (Perkovic). The CIVIS Cinema Award goes to ‘The Zone of Interest’, director Jonathan Glazer’s oppressive historical drama about family life on the estate of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss. The horror of the camp is not depicted in the film and yet is depressingly present, partly due to the soundtrack.

‘CIVIS is characterised by the fact that it not only reports on current events, but really goes into depth.’
WDR director
Tom Buhrow
re:publica | STATION
Vivian Perkovic | Moderator
Melika Foroutan | Laudator

Andreas Arnhold from film distributor LEONINE Studios accepts the prism-shaped award stele on behalf of the absent director Glazer, to huge applause from the auditorium. ‘Not an easily accessible film,’ says Arnhold about the multi-award-winning work. All the more reason for him to be proud of the audience’s positive reaction.

‘Where extremism is getting stronger, you also need strong dissenting voices’
Bakel Walden
Director of Development and Services at SRG SSR

Almost 900 submissions competed for one of the coveted media awards and kept selection committees and juries busy for weeks. Tonight’s grand finale is contested by 53 nominees with their ‘enlightening, inspiring, thought-provoking, clever, funny, sad, stirring, moving, gripping, stunning, wonderfully produced contributions’, Forudastan says in her welcoming address. For the first time, all 27 EU countries and Switzerland are represented, which means that the field of applicants again has become more europeanised – in line with the Foundation’s explicit intention of awarding a ‘European Media Prize’. Thematically, it is not a lightweight year. The authors are clearly not afraid to tackle big – and in most cases highly controversial – topics.

‘We are living in increasingly challenging times in Germany and Europe, and CIVIS is an important organisation that puts things into perspective and finds a different language.’
Friederike Behrends
Chairwoman of the Management Board of Deutsche Postcode Lotterie

This also applies to the winners in the social media category: ‘Israel and Gaza: Life between terror and war.’ It is the story, filmed for STRG_F (NDR I funk), of the German-Israeli Yarden and the German-Palestinian Abed, whose lives are both shaken by the Hamas attack on 7 October 2023 and the subsequent Israeli campaign in Gaza. Melika Foroutan quotes from the jury’s statement: ‘The production is partisan in the best sense of the word – it takes the side of empathy and humanity.’

Lisa Hagen, Armin Ghassim, Manuel Biallas, Sulaiman Tadmory, Timo Robben – five of the six authors take to the stage to receive their prizes, plus a sixth stele for their co-writer Mariam Noori, who is unable to attend. How are Yarden and Abed, the two protagonists, doing? They are alive, but living in the misery of war. ‘Both sides are suffering from the violence, which is getting worse and worse,’ reports Lisa Hagen. ‘It’s just terrible.’ All the more reason, the team says, to avoid any one-sided assessment.

‘That is why CIVIS and all of us stand together against these simple and highly dangerous answers.’
Minu Barati-Fischer
Producers Alliance
Vivian Perkovic, Andreas Arnhold | CIVIS CINEMA AWARD
Timo Robben, Sulaiman Tadmory, Lisa Hagen, Armin Ghassim, Manuel Biallas | CIVIS TOP AWARD and CIVIS VIDEO AWARD Social Media Formats
Cem Kaya and Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay | CIVIS VIDEO AWARD Information

The documentary ‘Songs of Gastarbeiter – Liebe, D-Mark und der Tod’ finds a new approach to an old, supposedly exhausted topic. Authors Cem Kaya and Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay explore the lives of so-called guest workers through their songs and music. In the words of the jury, the production ‘tells of the pain of the old and the joys of the young, and tells it in an incredibly sensual, captivating and energetic way’. It is honoured with the award in the Video Information category.

The two award-winning authors present themselves full of rousing energy. “We no longer say “guest workers”. We now say ‘people with a history – not ‘background’! – of migration. And if ‘guest workers’, then ‘male and female guest workers’!” That gets an extra round of applause. And anyway, says author Cem Kaya, ‘we’ve learnt: we don’t know first thing and they don’t know anything out there either.’ The film has changed that: ‘My father cried at the first chapter, my mother cried at the second, my siblings cried at the third – it was such a unifying cry,’ says Kaya’s colleague Akif Büyükatalay. Hall 4 is thrilled.

"We get to know people and their fates through the stories. It raises awareness and can also shed light on false prejudices."

Reem Alabali-Radovan
Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration
"We get to know people and their fates through the stories. It raises awareness and can also shed light on false prejudices."
Reem Alabali-Radovan
Minister of State for Migration, Refugees and Integration

Prize awarding in the podcast category is a joint venture by the jury and audience. The jurors choose a short list of suggestions, from which the users then pick their favorite. It is ‘Sonneberg is our fault!’, an episode from the Ostkinder 80/82 series, in which ‘Ostkinder’ Danny Frede and Alexander Derno ask themselves what they have to do with right-wing radicalism in their old homeland, where they have not lived for a long time. Self-exploration in an area where it becomes uncomfortable, praises the jury, ‘in the zone of one’s own responsibility’.

“CIVIS holds high the banner of democratic culture, the rule of law and humanity."
Andreas Freudenberg
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Freudenberg Foundation
Danny Frede and Alexander Derno | CIVIS AUDIO AWARD Podcasts
Pablo Léridon | CIVIS Video AWARD Fiction + Docudrama
Yasmina Hamlawi and Annika Erichsen | CIVIS AUDIO AWARD long programmes

The story of Rim, who earns her living as an interpreter in asylum proceedings in France, is all about dealing with guilt and responsibility. What she hears causes her to overstep the boundaries of neutrality that she is officially bound to – she takes the side of the asylum seekers. According to the jury, ‘La Voix des Autres’ (‘The Voice of Others’) reflects ‘the relationship between migration and language, the conflict between rules and the desire to help people in need’. For this, authors Fatima Kaci and Pablo Léridon are awarded the prize in the Video Fiction/Docudrama category

‘I learn again and again through CIVIS. And above all I see great journalistic works, whether short or long.’
Peter Limbourg
Director General of Deutsche Welle

According to presenter Perkovic, the submissions in the Audio Lang section provide a special experience: ‘Listening to the features nominated this year changes you. Through their atmospheric density and because you get so close to the people they are about.’ The winner is ‘Perle – Der Weg zurück zur körperlichen Unversehrtheit’. The feature, originally conceived in French by Yasmina Hamlawi and translated into German by Annika Erichsen, tells the story of the suffering and self-assertion of Somali woman Fos. She was the victim of genital mutilation in her home country and lives in Belgium after fleeing and undergoing successful surgical reconstruction of her clitoris. ‘This is unsparing, but always preserves the dignity of the protagonist,’ the jury states about the radio feature.

Hamlawi is connected to the Berlin ceremony by video from Brussels, Erichsen accepts the awards for both in Hall 4. ‘150 million women and girls are affected by this,’ says Erichsen. The special thing about her play is that the protagonist Fos is not portrayed as nothing but a victim, ‘but as the strong woman she is, and we are allowed to witness how she re-appropriates her own body and sexuality’.

‘CIVIS puts individual actors in front of the curtain who show special commitment and give courage.’
Roland Weißmann
Director General ORF

The Young C Award for filmmakers up to the age of 38 goes to ‘Echoes from Borderland’, a documentary film by Lara Milena Brose made at the Munich University of Television and Film. After fleeing from the Taliban, 15-year-old Nahid and her family are stranded in a Bosnian border village, from where they desperately try to reach Croatia and thus the EU. Brose is ill and was unable to come to Berlin, but has sent a statement full of ‘rebellious hope’:

Thomas Slatter and Lilly Pongratz | CIVIS YOUNG C. AWARD
Hannah Weber | CIVIS Audio Award short programmes
‘I hope that in future no one will have to go through this artificially created ordeal at our external borders!’
Christiane von Websky
Head of Division, Mercator Foundation

What is a ‘Brandenbleiber’? Brandenbleibers are people who live and stay in Brandenburg despite being subjected to racist hostility. Like 18-year-old Jeremy from Fürstenwalde, who finds support among his mates in the volunteer fire brigade. Jeremy’s story ‘The fire brigade is my safe space – home despite racism’, told by author Hannah Weber, wins the CIVIS Award in the Audio Short category. Deutsche Welle Director General Peter Limbourg from the CIVIS Friends and Supporters: ‘It is particularly important that we protect people who are under attack. Whether they are immigrants, refugees or people of the Jewish faith.”

At the end of this year’s gala, once again comes the CIVIS Top Award for a production that stands out in particular. It goes to the play that, among all the journalistically committed and courageous submissions, has dealt with one of the most complicated current topics, ‘Israel and Gaza – life between terror and war’. The audience has a particularly long and warm applause for author Armin Ghassim’s closing words: ‘It is important that we treat all human lives equally and critically scrutinise governments and all parties to the conflict.’