German human rights film prize award goes to ′Styx′ | Film | DW | 07.12.2018
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German human rights film prize award goes to 'Styx'

Professional and amateur filmmakers submitted films in various categories again this year, vying for the renowned German Human rights film prize. The awards ceremony is on Saturday.

The renowned German human rights film prize in the feature film category goes to director Wolfgang Fischer's drama Styx this year. The film about a woman sailing alone on the Mediterranean when suddenly confronted with a boatload of refugees raises uncomfortable questions about personal responsibility inn the face of Europe's refugee crisis.

The worldwide refugee problem has heightened the importance of the award, which is in its 11th year, the organizers said.

This year's prize is being awarded under the patronage of former German president Joachim Gauck; DW editor in chief Ines Pohl was a member of the jury in the category Professional Magazine Films.

The fates of many refugees or the tale of an individual refugee. Stories attune our sensitivities to human rights abuses that are still everyday occurrences all over the world, Gauck said ahead of Saturday's award ceremony.

Filmmakers have a special responsibility, he said, and this is what the human rights film award is honoring for the 11th time this year.

Filmstill Styx (

A still from "Styx": The plight of refugees are a central theme in this year's film prize

A lasting impression

The prize has been awarded in the city of Nuremburg every two years since 1998. This year, 382 films were submitted in the competition's five categories: short film, feature film, magazine film, student film and amateur film. Four juries reviewed the entries and chose the winning films, and an additional prize went to a film in the category 'education.'

Styx won the award in the feature film category, Florian Baron's documentary about a US soldier traumatized in Iraq, Joe Boots, won the short film award; the 2017 film Erst integrieren, dann abschieben: Deutschlands absurde Asylpolitik (Integrate, then deport: Germany's absurd asylum policies) by Naima El Moussaoui and Ralph Hötte was the winner in the Magazine film category; Alexander Hick's Thinking Like A Mountain came in first as student film; and Vanessa Ugiagbe and Yasemin Markstein's Just A Normal Girl was deemed the best amateur film.

The education prize went to an episode from the German TV comedy series Der Tatortreiniger, directed by Arne Feldhusen.

a woman sailing a yacht (

"Styx" is the story of a woman sailing alone on a holiday before encountering a hopelessly overloaded refugee boat

Ongoing refugee and migration problem

The reasons why people flee, individual fates and dramatic tales were the focus once again of the films competing for a film prize renowned Europe-wide. 

The films entered into the competition show once again that "human rights are still under pressure, in Europe and around the world," said Klaus Ploth, one of the organizers.

The competition also mirrors the "diversity of issues from escape and integration via equal opportunities for people with handicaps to films about cultural identity," Ploth added.

The competition is held and organized by 21 organizations, including human rights groups, cultural and education institutions, media, churches and unions. The € 2500 ($2840) prizes are awarded on the eve of the International Day of Human Rights.

"We know that you can say more with a photo or a film than with many words, reports or statistics," Germany's ex-president said.

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