2020 - A Year In A Nutshell

2020 surely was something none of us could have expected. Despite the sudden turns and challenges, we ended up coming up with a very interesting year full of rich conversations on fundamental issues such as democracy, justice, freedom and the climate crisis.

Today we would like to share some of our 2020 highlights with you: 

We were excited to kick off the year 2020 together with SPUTNIK Kino am Südstern by screening the two outstanding Oscar nominated documentaries "For Sama" (opening film of the HRFFB 2019) and "Honeyland" on the occasions of the Oscars.


In March – shortly before the first COVID-19 lockdown – we had the pleasure to participate in the Climate Story Lab London. We were very inspired by the three day conference that brought together professionals and allies from various disciplines to network, discuss and support story-based climate action. Inspired by the London conference we were convinced that we needed to host our very own Climate Story Lab Berlin during the HRFFB 2020. Learn more about the Climate Story Lab Berlin: Link


During the first lockdowns we decided to do the best we could and launched the “Doc of the Day” series (our online film tips can be found here) and introduced our first podcast series “High Confidence – Films and Human Rights in Crisis”. Within this series we talked with filmmakers and human rights defenders worldwide about the influence of Covid-19 on their lives and the human rights situations in their countries. All episodes can be found here: Link


In May we teamed up with re:publica to jointly offer a free streaming of the film NOVAYA, Askold Kurov’s impressive portrait of one of Russia’s last independent newspapers and the winning documentary of our 2019 film festival edition. Read the interview with the director here: Link


After the summer, where we put all our efforts and work into preparing a hybrid film festival, the year culminated with the highly anticipated festival itself. Since March we were working on hygiene concepts and a strategy for a hybrid festival that could easily be transformed into an online edition, if required.  


As we reached September we were thrilled to announce our program of 41 outstanding films, the wonderful Nadia Murad as our honorary patron  and our international guests. We were luckey enouth to welcome around 20 international guests in person despite the travel restrictions. Additionally, many more filmmakers and experts participated online.

After 10 days with 41 films from talented filmmakers, six projects of our premiering virtual reality exhibition, and six days of enriching conferences with over 100 experts, we could look back at our most successful festival to date with regard to our audience numbers. With over 10.000 viewers and conference participants from all over the world, we were inspired, happy and exhausted. You can find a more detailed summary of the festival here: Link


At the end of the festival our international jury awarded the Willy Brandt Documentary Award for Freedom and Human Rights to the Kenyan documentary SOFTIE by director Sam Soko about the political activist Boniface Mwangi and his wife Njeri.


Additionally, the outstanding documentary “Maxima” received our audience award while the Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was awarded with an honorary price for freedom and democracy for her tireless work amid the non-violent protest movement in Belarus. You can watch the full award ceremony here: Link


Even though the end of the year started to draw closer we were not quite finished with our program. As the cinemas had to close again, we started a series of solidarity screenings called "11 days 11 films" in support of our partner cinemas. In this successful series, we offered the possibility to watch some of the outstanding films we showed in our 2020 program.


Through the support of the Berliner Senatskanzlei we were also able to host various discussions and expert talks on the Future of European Documentaries. You can find our learnings as well as the links to the two panel discussions here: Link


We ended the year with special screenings of the films "Softie" on the occasion of the Human Rights Day and “Nasrin” on the occasion of the Right Livelihood Award, highlighting the work of the Iranian human rights lawyer and women rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh who is currently imprisoned. Learn more about “Nasrin” as well as ways to support her here: Link


Now, at the end of this challenging year, we want to use the opportunity to say thank you: Thank you for participating. Thank you for watching these outstanding films. And thank you to our amazing partners and supporters without whom we would not have been able to realize our 2020 festival edition.


As you can imagine, we are looking forward to bringing you more outstanding films and enlightening conversations in 2021.


We wish you a great and healthy New Year - stay safe and sound!

31. DECEMBER 2020