Berlin, Germany – 20 October 2023. The documentary film ‘While We Watched’ by director Vinay Shukla about Indian television journalist Ravish Kumar has won the Willy Brandt Documentary Film Award at the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin, while the campaign End Gender Apartheid has been awarded the Honorary Prize for Democracy and Freedom.
‘The documentary film “While We Watched” is both terrifying and inspiring,’ said Wolfram Hoppenstedt, Managing Director of the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation, at the award ceremony. ‘Terrifying because it tells the story of how the press and freedom of expression are being attacked in many countries around the world. Inspiring because we see journalist Ravish Kumar fighting for press freedom and Indian democracy despite all the resistance and hostility he faces. It is a shining example of one person making a difference.’
The jury also made special mention of the films ‘Colette et Justin’ by director Alain Kassanda and ‘My Name is Happy’ by Nick Read and Ayse Toprak.
The Audience Award went to ‘Transition’, a film about journalist and transgender man Jordan Bryon, working in Afghanistan. Bryon accepted the award in person. Moreover, the festival awarded its first Youth Jury Prize, going to ‘The Mind Game’ about the dangerous journey undertaken by Sajid Khan Nasiri, who fled Afghanistan on his own at age 14 – and recorded it on his cell phone. The protagonist and the director Els van Driel were both present.
The Honorary Prize for Democracy and Freedom was awarded to the campaign End Gender Apartheid. This campaign was launched by Iranian and Afghan women and has received support from many prominent human rights activists, including Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi, Nadia Murad and Narges Mohammadi. The campaign calls on the international community to recognise gender-based apartheid as a crime under international law.
Tamana Zaryab Paryani, an Afghan journalist and women’s rights activist, and Bahar Ghandehari, founder of Middle East Matters and an Iranian human rights campaigner, accepted the award in Berlin on behalf of all the women who signed the petition. The award presentation speech was made by Luise Amtsberg, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights.
A special screening of ‘While We Watched’ will take place at 7 p.m. on 21 October 2023 at the Colosseum Cinema.