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Cinema for Peace Honors Most Valuable Movies of the Year

BERLIN – The 2013 Cinema for Peace Gala honored seven outstanding films fighting against the violation of human rights, war and injustice as the Most Valuable Movies of the Year. Steven Spielberg’s film about America’s iconic president, “Lincoln”, was recognized as the Most Valuable Movie of the Year at the Gala by the 100-member Cinema for Peace jury chaired by the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Dr. Aida Takia-O’Reilly. She further announced that the HFPA supports Cinema for Peace and praised “Lincoln” “for showing how sacrifice and strength can bring justice to a nation for generations to come”. O’Reilly served as the President of the 2013 Cinema for Peace Jury, a board of 100 distinguished film makers, producers and distinguished personalities such as Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll, among others.

gael_eugenio.JPG“Searching for Sugar Man” by Malik Bendjelloul and “The Gatekeepers” by Dror Moreh won both the award for Most Valuable Documentary of the Year. Their awards were presented to the filmmakers by Michael Barker, co-President and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics.


Pablo Larrain’s film “NO” about the end of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile received the Cinema for Peace Justice Award. The end of the regime was organized by peaceful means and with a 15-minute long movie that was created by Eugenio Garcia, who created the campaign against Pinochet and was recognized last night for this achievement for the first time in 25 years. Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, presented the award and said that “all nominees took personal risks to bring to light not only issues which affect every day lives in many parts of the world but also affect us all.“ The award in this category was shared with the film “Class Dismissed”, which tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who takes it upon herself to fight for the right of women to have an education in Pakistan. The Taliban shot her last October, but she has survived badly injured and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Price one week ago.

The International Green Film Award went to the film “Bitter Seeds”, which describes how farmers in India commit suicide because they suffer from the monopoly of the company Monsanto. The award was presented by spokesperson of the UN World Food Program, Mr. Ralf Südhoff.
micha.jpgThe International Human Rights Film Award was awarded by Bill Browder, who said that „these are films, that change policies“ as he has proven with the last year awarded film about his murdered lawyer Sergei Magnitzky – a film he succeeded with changing the laws in the U.S., resulting in the introduction of the "Sergei Magnitzki Act" against murderers and torturers. The 2013 award had been selected by Amnesty International, Movies That Matter and the Human Rights Film Network to honor the Sexual Minorities Initiative in Uganda, the late activist David Kato, the film “Call Me Kuchu” by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhall-Worrall. It is a moving documentary focusing on the social situation of Uganda’s homosexual population. David Kato, being the first openly gay man in the east African country to fight for the rights of homosexuals (“Kuchu” in native language), was brutally slain with a hammer in his house last year. He and the organization’s Executive Director, Frank Mugisha, were acknowledged with the International Human Rights Film Award as well.

At the award gala, South African actress and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron was awarded Cinema for Peace Honorary Award in recognition for her Africa Outreach Project. This year’s Cinema for Peace event was staged on Saturday, February 9th at the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin, Germany.mugisha.jpg
The 2013 Cinema for Peace Berlin also highlighted the artistic and social fight against anti-Semitism in Germany and beyond. One main focus of the film gala was the presentation of the Cinema for Peace Special Award for Opposing Anti-Semitism by Rabbi Daniel Alter, who was brutally attacked on the streets of Berlin and whose nose had been broken just for being Jewish, to actress Veronica Ferres, activists Charlotte Knobloch and Marga Spiegel, who all have been opposing anti-Semitism. They did two films together, which tell their personal stories how they survived the holocaust. “We all have the dream of peace”, said Charlotte Knobloch, the former chairwoman of the Jewish community in Germany. The 100-year-old Holocaust survivor Marga Spiegel said deeply moved that 62 members of her family had been killed by the Nazis and that the honoring on this night  "was the highlight of her life”

All awarded movies in detail:
1) Cinema for Peace Justice Award
Laudation by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda

Award winner: “NO”
Directed by: Pablo Larraín
For a captivating, creative and persistent fight for political freedom within an oppressive system of injustice.

Armed with the responsibility of keeping military dictator Augusto Pinochet from staying in power of Chile, young advertising executive René Saavedra is made head of the advertising campaign of the opposition. Under constant watch from the ruling regime and with limited resources at his disposal, René Saavedra and his advertising team create a plan to win the election and save their country from further oppression.

Award winner: “Class Dismissed”
Directed by: Adam B. Ellick
For revealing the pressure Malala and her family went through prior to the attempted assassination of this extremely brave Pakistani school girl.

“Class Dismissed” is a documentary that tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl whose dream to receive an education and to one day become a doctor was cut short when the Taliban shut down her school in the Swat District of Pakistan. Fighting for her right to education, Malala spoke out against the mistreatment of women. In 2012 she was shot and severely wounded by a gunman, targeted for her actions of working to help women achieve equality.

Other nominated movies were “Invisible Children”, “The Act of Killing” and “The Central Park Five”.
2) International Green Film Award
Laudation by the spokesperson of the United Nations World Food Program, Mr. Ralf Südhoff

Award Winner: Bitter Seeds
For shedding light on the plight of farmers in the grips of global agribusiness.
Directed by: Micha X. Peled

The third film in Micha Peled’s globalization trilogy, “Bitter Seeds” describes the plight of the current state of farming in India and how genetically-modified crops and our modern ways of agriculture have led to unprecedented consequences.  In the country that has the most farmers of any in the world, a crisis is brewing. Every 30 minutes a farmer in India takes his life due to overwhelming circumstances of despair. A teenage girl living in the middle of the epidemic with her family begins her journey to become a journalist and tell the world about what is happening in India.

Other nominated movies were “Switch”, “Trashed”, “Beyond Pollution” and “Promised Land”.

3) Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Movie of the Year
aidatakla2.jpgLaudation by the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Dr. Aida Takia-O’Reilly

Award Winner:
For showing how sacrifice and strength can bring justice to a nation for generations to come.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg

In Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film “Lincoln”, a key period in American history is examined. During the final four months of the 16 th President of the United States’ life, Abraham Lincoln is forced to take on decisions that will change the course of America in regards to slavery. While the Civil War continues to tear the country apart, Lincoln has to convince his cabinet that the decision to emancipate the slaves must be made. “Lincoln” has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including “Best Picture” and “Best Actor”.

Other nominated films were “Arbitrage”, “The Impossible”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Rust and Bone”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “War Witch”, as well as “Life of Pi”, and “Amour”.

4) Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Documentary of the Year
Laudation by the co-President and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, Mr. Michael Barker

Award Winner: “Searching for Sugar Man”
For showing the power of music and its ability to elevate our hardships to a universal level.
Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul

Two dedicated fans from Cape Town, South Africa, set out on a quest to find the truth of what happened to their hero, the rock and roll musician of the 1970’s, Rodriguez. While his music never took to popularity in his native United States, it found its home in South Africa during the Apartheid where some musicians took his music as inspiration to fight against the unjust government.

Award Winner: “The Gatekeepers”
For attempting to change the understanding of the conflict in the Middle East by featuring the people whose job it was to try and manage it.
Directed by: Dror Moreh

This 2012 documentary features the interviews of the remaining former heads of the Shin Bet Israeli Security agency, whose secrets were closely guarded by the state. The six former heads of the agency recount the roles they played in the events from the Six-Day War to the present. In a mix of interviews, archived footage, and computer animation, Israeli modern history comes to light.

Other documentaries nominated as well were “Shadow of Liberty”, “The Law in These Parts”, “Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry”, “How to Survive a Plague”, and “5 Broken Cameras”.

5) International Human Rights Film Award by Amnesty International, Human Rights Film Network and Cinema for Peace
Laudation by Mr. Bill Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital Management and human rights activist

Award Winner: “Call Me Kuchu”
For showing courage in the fight for human rights and equality amongst severe discrimination and danger.
Directed by: Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall

David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, works with his fellow activists to stop the new bill that threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death while simultaneously fighting the daily vicious persecution that haunts their lives. The film follows the movements of the activists in fighting the bleak reality that exists for gays in Uganda. And then, in a sudden turn of events, a wretched murder shakes the entire movement to its core.
Cinema for Peace Foundation and Charlize Theron Africa Outreach project were the two beneficiaries of the gala evening.

Bitter Seeds