• Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Cinema For Peace 

Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Cinema For Peace 

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Cinema for Peace Gala 2016

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16 February 2016
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Academy Award Winner Charlize Theron to hand over Nelson Mandela Award / JuryPresident Ai Weiwei with installation at the Konzerthaus / Patron Mikhail Gorbachev / Laudations by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda, Kweku Mandela, Pussy Riot and the first female Muslim Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Iran / Social film awards by the Cinema for Peace Foundation / First Cinema for Peace Ball with a Syrian refugee band, Jan Josef Liefers and Katja Riemann

This year's Cinema for Peace Gala Berlin will focus on the current situation of refugees and on migration. The prestigious film gala, taking place on February 15th at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, Germany, will present a selection of films that address refugees, their lives and fates. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be the Honorary President of this year's gala jury. He is strongly involved into bringing public attention to the refugee situation by being present on the Greek Island Lesbos these days. In the last couple of days, he created a fascinating installation with life vests and a rescue boat from the Greek island of Lesbos at the Konzerthaus. Last year, Ai Weiwei had been honored by Cinema for Peace. He had to send a video message from China, because state authorities did not give him a passport that would have allowed him to travel: "Freedom of expression and speech is censored despite being a human right. Only by being able to communicate and discuss freely we can create a better society. The medium film is a strong tool to emphasize the meaning of freedom of expression and to practice it every day."

The former President of Russia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev is the patron of the gala. His last visit to Berlin, by invitation of the Cinema for Peace Foundation, took place during the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall in November 2014. For today's event, he sent this message from Moscow: "More than 25 years ago, calling for reunification of their country, Germans took to the streets and chanted: We are one nation. We are one nation. Today, I would suggest a new slogan, which I believe is of vital importance: We are one humankind. We are one planet. We must live in peace. And this goal, too, can be achieved." Also the Russian activists and musicians Pussy Riot will participate in the event. The jury unites 130 members of the film industry, e.g. international award winners, festival directors, journalists as well as members of the Golden Globes and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). The "Nelson Mandela Award for the most valuable movie of the year" will be presented by Academy Award Winner Charlize Theron and Kweku Mandela. In total, 15 films have been nominated in this category, a selection based on their strong critical, social and humanitarian message. The films "Spotlight", „Truth" and „Trumbo" highlight the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Based on real stories are the nominees „Bridge of Spies", „Suffragette" und „Stonewall", all focusing on special personalities who had risked their lives in order to fight for their values. „Beasts of No Nation" tells the story of a child soldier.„Son of Saul" puts attention to the holocaust. Other laudators are the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, as well as Shirin Ebadi, a former judge and human rights activist from Iran will also join the event. Ebadi has been the first female Muslim Nobel Peace Prize Laureate when receiving this prize in 2003. For the first time, the gala will be followed by a ball. A band of Syrian refugees will be playing, following an initiative by Jan Josef Liefers, and being supported by last year's laudator Katja Riemann. In 2013, Liefers had travelled to Aleppo in Syria with Cinema for Peace, delivering milk powder and promoting the idea of a no-fly-zone and asking to stop bombing civilians. The Nominated Films The new category "Cinema for Peace Refugees Film Award" will present the hard reality of refugees and analyze their background, which is a more relevant them than ever due to the current discussion across European countries. Nominated are „Mediterranea", „Dheepan", „Lampedusa in Winter", „A Syrian Love Story" and „Sonita". In addition, the award will be presented to films in these categories: • Nelson Mandela Award for the Most Valuable Movie of the Year • Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year • Cinema for Peace Award for Justice •

The International Green Film Award The Cinema for Peace Special Award will be presented to the filmmakers of "Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer" (The State against Fritz Bauer) and the main actor Burkhart Klaussner. The film shows how the main criminal mastermind behind the deportation of millions of Jews, Adolf Eichmann, has been let to escape and how and how Fritz Bauer arrested him in cooperation with the Israelian secret service against all odds and by risking his own career. The cooperation with Israel and hunting Eichmann was considered as treason. In the context of Pegida, NSU and the irritating reaction to the Hitler actor from the film "Er ist wieder da" ("He is back"), when by-passers on the Kurfürstendamm greeted him friendly, Cinema for Peace wants to make a strong stated against the silent acceptance of Neo-Nazis which partly is the result of a polarizing discussion about refugees and unsolved integration issues.

"We have foreseen this development for more than two years" Cinema for Peace Founder Jaka Bizilj explains. „We have staged a great many screenings about Syria across Germany, we have visited war areas in Syria, tried to wake up politicians and the people in order to finish this war. Nobody has acted. Or to say in the words of Ai Weiwei: If you don't do anything, everything will get worse. We have to act now and have to finish wars." The category Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year will highlight some of the most relevant themes of our time. The nominated films include the Oscar-winning documentary „Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom" and 'India's Daughter', which achieved a lot of public attention. Other films are „Walls" about walls that divide people, „Our terrible Country" on the Syrian revolution and „Hawar - Der Genocide" on the genocide of the Yazidi minority to the US-Mexican production "Cartel Land", which portrays the opposition on the drone war. The Cinema for Peace Award for Justice, which started in 2009 in co-operation with the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Luis Moreno Ocampo, awards films which focus on international law.

This year, it is mainly films on the pioneers of the judicial system and universal human rights e.g. „The Diplomat" on Richard Holbrooke, „A Man Can Make a Difference" on the Chief Prosecutor of the war trial in Nueremberg and founder of the International Criminal Court, Benjamin Ferenc, as well as „Watchers of the Sky", which is a documentary on the man who gave the word "Genocide" its current meaning and who believed that laws have to protect the world from mass murder. It's name Raphael Lemkin. The Cinema for Peace Award for Justice is handed over by a renowned jury with e.g. Fatou Bensouda and Shirin Ebadi but also human rights experts and lawyers such as Manfred Nowak (former UN ambassador being responsible for "torture), Dr. Wolfgang Kaleck (Founder of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights) and Fred Abrahams (E-Team/Human Rights Watch).

The International Green Film Award being invented by President Gorbachev and Leonardo DiCaprio awards films focusing on environmental issues. An international jury of environmental activists and filmmakers selects the best film. Nominated are the documentary „Racing Extinction", which follows the sacred fight of activists, who try to persuade the world of up-coming environmental catastrophes. The film „How to Change the World" focuses on Greenpeace as the biggest environmental organization in the world, while „The True Cost" investigates the influence of the fashion industry on the society. The Science-in-action film „Antarctic Edge: 70° South" emphasizes the consequences of climate change and the melting poles. „Last of the Elephant Men" presents the fight of the indigenous population in Cambodia for the survival of their elephants, which are the basis of their culture.