Cinema for Peace Gala 2019
BERLIN - The Cinema for Peace Gala 2019 was celebrated once again as the highlight of the Berlin Film Festival and the most valuable humanitarian Gala in Europe. It was attended by three heads of states, various Academy Award winners and dedicated filmmakers with the most valuable films of the year. The three-day presentations kicked off with a dinner with the UN Ambassador for Peace Charlize Theron. At the Gala night former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Michael Douglas and Faye Dunaway honored the six-time Oscar-winning producer Arthur Cohn for his lifetime achievements. Furthermore, the most inspiring and the most socially conscious films of this year were celebrated, with a surprise winner for the "Most Valuable Film of the Year": "Capernaum", overtaking "Roma" and "Green Book".
The hero of the night was Dr. Tom Catena, who runs in the Nuba mountains of Sudan a hospital and whose film documentary convinced President Bashir to stop bombings and keep a cease-fire since two years. This best practice example of true cinema for peace, "The Heart of Nuba", won the "Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year" - a peace dove created by Ai Weiwei, who served as a chair of the evening. The International Green Film Award was presented by Sebastian Copeland to the film "The Elephant Queen" and its producers. For the first time, Cinema for Peace presented the Women's Empowerment Film Award, with two nominations about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The documentary "RBG" rose to be the winner. Cinema for Peace also introduced the first "The Political Film of the Year Award", which was introduced by Daniel Ellsberg. The Award was presented to Charles Ferguson for his documentary "Watergate" by the former president of Poland and Nobel Peace laureate Lech Walesa at the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. President Walesa is known for being the man who stopped the communist oppression first in the shipyards of Gdansk and who removed the first brick of the wall with Solidarnosc and the protection of the Polish Pope. The film "Watergate" shows in detail how an US president out of control was stopped and the key -role of Daniel Ellsberg, who published the Pentagon Papers, a story which Steven Spielberg made into the film "The Post" with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.
There was a strong emotional reaction following The Cinema for Peace Award for Justice, which was given to "Two Catalonias" by the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who had been arrested in Germany and made a peace offer to Spain on stage. The impartial filmmakers gave an acceptance speech but were pressured in Spain to give the award back, even though they had had no knowledge in advance of winning the award and that the main subject of their film would present the award to them.
On the third night Cinema for Peace presented its filmmakers, Pussy Riot and Dr. Tom Catena at the Reichstag to the German parliamentarians, the head of the committee for human rights and humanitarian support of the Parliament Gyde Jensen and guests such as Can Dündar.