After learning how to become a hybrid festival in 2020, we started 2021 virtually with three film series that we highly recommend to you for the holidays: 

These film series were supplemented with special screenings offered together with our partners on what are (unfortunately) still highly explosive topics. For example, in March, together with Aktion gegen den Hunger and the Centre for Humanitarian Action, we screened the powerful film HUNGER WARD by Sky Fitzgerald to observe the sad anniversary of the Yemen war – still the worst humanitarian crisis of our time – followed by a panel discussion on how the situation could be solved. 

In May, to mark the occasion of re:publica, we partnered with the Ladima Foundation and DW Academy to screen a series of short films by female African directors on the impact that Corona has had on women. Together with Maria Wersig (lawyer) and Snigdha Sahal (Action Against Hunger India), we discussed the connection between poverty and sexism (Youtube). You can learn more about both events here: 

In summer, we put all our efforts and work into preparing the next hybrid film festival and as we moved into August, we were thrilled to present our program of 40 outstanding films, to announce the powerful Saudi women’s and human rights activist Loujain al Hathloul as our honorary patron and to publicise the Sundance Winner “Sabaya” as our opening film. You can watch the full opening ceremony here:

In September the year culminated with the highly anticipated festival itself. That would not have been possible without the support of our colleagues of Aktion gegen den Hunger, our main partners Save the Children and Amnesty International, all our friends, supporters, partners and funders and of course our amazing volunteers. A huge thank you – to all of them!

After ten days with forty moving and inspiring films, a multi-media exhibition, four enriching forum days attended by over one hundred experts from all over the world and satellite events in India (in cooperation with the fantastic Khablaria Media) and Nigeria (with the wonderful Ladima Foundation), we can now look back on an extremely successful 2021 edition. With over 11,000 visitors and conference participants from all over the world taking part, we are very happy and proud. On a very personal note: the most wonderful moments for us were when the air in the hall bristled with emotion and we could really see and feel that we were reaching and inspiring people with our films and talks. You will find a summary of the forum and the exhibition here: Link

At the end of the festival, our international jury awarded the Willy Brandt Documentary Award for Freedom and Human Rights to “Imad’s Childhood” by Zahavi Sanjavi, which tells the story of five-year-old Imad, who has spent more than half of his life in IS captivity and returns deeply disturbed to his Yazidi family. The film shows his hard road back to a normal life (watch our conversation with Zahavi Sanjavi). 

In addition, the outstanding documentary “Dear Future Children” received our audience award, while the international news collective “Forbidden Stories” was awarded an honorary prize for freedom and democracy for their tireless work to protect the freedom of the press. You can watch the full award ceremony here:

Even though the end of the year was drawing closer, we were not quite finished with our program.  We finished the year with a film and discussion series to mark International Human Rights Day. You will find the discussions here:

Now, at the conclusion of this challenging year, we want to take this 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 realise our 2021 festival edition.
As you can probably imagine, we can’t wait to invite you to watch more fascinating documentaries together with us next year and are very much looking forward to preparing eye-opening discussions for you in 2022!
We wish you a happy and healthy New Year – stay safe and sound!

28. DECEMBER 2021