At the award ceremony of the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2019 the Willy-Brandt-Dokumentarfilmpreis für Freiheit und Menschenrechte was awarded for the first time. Peter Brandt, son of former German Chancellor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Willy Brandt, presented the prize to the Russian director Askold Kurov. Kurov received the award for his impressive documentary Novaya (2018) about the editorial staff of "Novaya Gazeta", one of Russia's first and now last independent newspapers.
"The Willy Brandt Documentary Film Award for Freedom and Human Rights is intended to commemorate Willy Brandt's achievements as German Chancellor and Nobel Peace Prize winner and to support outstanding filmmakers whose work exemplifies Willy Brandt's values. Especially today, when language is brutalized and independent journalism is criticized and systematically questioned, a film like Novaya is essential," said Peter Brandt in his laudation.
The Willy Brandt Documentary Film Award for Freedom and Human Rights honors a documentary film for its outstanding artistic and content achievements. The prize, endowed with EUR 3,000 by the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation, will be awarded at the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin in the years 2019 - 2023. The festival was founded in 2018 by the organisation Aktion gegen den Hunger.
The jury's reasoning in its wording:
We are honoring a film that combines the highest arts of documentary filmmaking: an intimate observation through a discreet, inconspicuous camera lens. No staging, no lecture, no commentary - the images we see speak for themselves and bring us closer to a group of heroic advocates of freedom of the press and opinion. We witness their daily struggle for truth and bravery, even in moments when their courage is filled with fear. This film is a subtle testimony to the high price these journalists pay and risk their lives to maintain critical journalism in the most difficult circumstances. Since 2000, Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's largest independent newspapers, nominated three times for the Nobel Prize, has lost six of its members* - journalists* who have always remained true to their professional ethos. The film is truly made in the spirit of former Chancellor and journalist Willy Brandt and his legendary credo: "We want to dare more democracy"