The award winners of the 39th DOK.fest München


We are pleased to present the award winning films of DOK.fest München 2024 and congratulate all the winners!

In the three competition series Main Competition, DOK.deutsch Competition and DOK.horizonte Competition – Cinema of Urgency, the films at the 39th International Documentary Film Festival Munich compete for the VIKTOR the award statue donated by the sponsoring association of DOK.fest München. In addition, 13 other top-class awards will be presented. A total of 65,100 euros in prize money will be awarded.

VIKTOR Main Competition

Directors: Andreas Hartmann & Arata Mori

Japanese night moving companies specialise in the art of disappearance and help those who need or want to leave their former lives behind. On their nightly missions they discretely and efficiently orchestrate people’s transition to a new existence. In the process, they often skirt the boundaries of legality due to the diverse motivations behind the disappearances. Eva Weinmann

Jury statement: “Picking one out of so many beautifully and impressively told stories was not an easy task, and we would like to congratulate all of the competition filmmakers on making such important and impactful work. We decided to award a film that introduced us to a world and issues we didn’t know existed. One that did so in a deeply empathetic and moving way, while also taking us on an immersive cinematic journey with its intimate – yet far from intrusive – camerawork and evocative music. The filmmakers successfully wove together very complex stories of loneliness, despair and shame – without any sense of judgment, and instead with deep respect for individual human experiences. It's a unique and delicately crafted film that moved and surprised us, and we hope it will be seen and appreciated by audiences around the world. The VIKTOR award in the section Main Competition goes to: JOHATSU – INTO THIN AIR by Andreas Hartmann and Arata Mori. Congratulations!”

Jury: Silvia Finazzi (International Sales Agent _ SALES & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, FILMS AND DOCS, RIGHTS MANAGEMENT at Cinecittà S.p.A.), Ania Trzebiatowska (Feature film programmer, Sundance Film Festival) and Ümit Uludağ (Producer for artistic feature-length documentaries, CORSO Film)

Sponsored by Bayerischer Rundfunk, endowed with 10,000 euros. Nominated were films that show a broad spectrum of content and form and are distinguished by their high artistic quality.

VIKTOR DOK.deutsch Wettbewerb

Regie: Rebecca Hirneise

Rebecca Hirneise goes back to her deeply protestant family. Until now, her relatives have always prayed but never talked about it. Now a conversation is opened up. Without bias or judgement, the director explores the family members’ beliefs. The spectrum is wide: there are the faithful and god-fearing, those who pray for miracles and those who don’t believe. The rifts between them are deep. Ysabel Fantou

Jury statement: “To talk in a circle can mean two things: to make no progress in a discussion or to communicate while sitting in a circle. In the prize-winning film we encounter both. The film takes a process-driven, essayist approach as we accompany the filmmaker from Vienna to southern Germany where she seeks a dialogue with her deeply religious relatives to understand and contextualise their beliefs and to question and convey her own agnosticism. The interpretations of faith prove to be less than homogenous as traumas and accounts of injuries and harm emerge. The tension between a search for and lack of comprehension increases and subjective interpretations and the attempt for cinematic objectivity literally go round in circles. Out of necessity, the search for answers becomes a search for filmic form. The more those involved in the discussion elude each other, the more intimate – and productive – the constellations become. The prize-winning debut film distinguishes itself through a deep respect for ist protagonists. It is difficult to watch or listen to at times; opinions strongly diverge, statements hurt and sometimes tip into fundamentalism. It is irritating in the truest sense of the word to want to understand, yet the direction makes an attempt – without giving up its own position or elevating it above any other in a judgemental way. Through a personal narrative that nonetheless thinks universally, an experience is made possible that seems barely conceivable and that sometimes leaves us in disbelief. The VIKTOR for the 2024 DOK.deutsch competition goes to Rebecca Hirneise for her feature-length debut ZWISCHEN UNS GOTT. Congratulations!”

Jury: Stephanie Fuchs (Sales Manager, Autlook Filmsales GmbH), Leopold Grün (Filmmaker and pedagogue, VISION KINO) and Sebastian Höglinger (Curator, Distribution/Text, Former Director of Diagonale)

Endowed with 7,500 euros. The nominated films deal with people and topics from the German-speaking world. Sponsored by Sky.

VIKTOR DOK.horizonte Competition – Cinema of Urgency

Directors: Ilyas Yourish & Shahrokh Bikaran

Zahra was the first in her family to study in Kabul and researched the significance of the kamay plant as an animal feed used by the mountain farmers of Hazarajat. Her suicide hit her parents and siblings hard. In their grief, they fight against a thicket of discrimination, harassment and infringements of justice. In quiet, poetic and monumental images, KAMAY tells the story of an unknown side of Afghanistan. Silvia Bauer

Jury statement: We would like to reward a previously untold story that sheds light on the heartbreaking events that take place in one family, reflecting the drama of a whole ethnic group. The directors carefully guide the viewer through the grief of the family members, revealing the roots of hundreds of years of oppression. The two directors of KAMAY, llyas Yourish and Shahrokh Bikaran, are also searching for a unique cinematic language to preserve and represent the culture of the Hazara people and find a considerate and poetic way to make their voices heard. We appreciate their respectful approach towards the sensitive subject matter and the protagonists, who find themselves in a vulnerable position, as well as the directors’ brave attempt to expose the issues standing in the way of achieving justice for the protagonists’ daughter. We hope that this film will help raise awareness about the current situation in Afghanistan and give more attention to and space for the voices of refugees from the region. Congratulations!”

Jury: Liuying Cao (Co-Founder and Head of International Sales of Midnight Blur Films and Parallax Films; Festival Coordinator), Helga Grigoryeva (reelance producer, cultural manager, and consultant) and Enikő Gyureskó (Managing Director of the Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival)

Sponsored by the Petra Kelly Foundation, endowed with 5,000 euros. The nominees were films that focus on countries with unstable structures.

FFF Talent Award Documentary Film

Director: Bahar Bektas

“The longing for your homeland never goes away,” says the filmmaker Bahar Bektaş. Her brother is in prison in Germany. He is supposed to be deported and is waiting for the early transfer to Turkey he has requested. Because there seems to be no end to the waiting, Bahar turns her camera on her Alevi Kurdish family and examines the consequences of being uprooted. Ina Borrmann

Jury statement: “It is rare for a documentary to capture the full complexity of the experience of exile. EXILE NEVER ENDS is a remarkable exception because it explores two exiles: of a Kurdish family, who fled persecution from Turkey to Germany, and of the two sons who question their relationship with the country they grew up in. It touches on issues such as generational conflict and the challenges of integration without following an agenda of its own. This multi-layered, intimate story is told by Bahar Bektaş, who sensitively traces the complex emotions of her family members, while asserting a space of her own, as she delves into the emotional and geographical realms of displacement and new beginnings. The jury was unanimous in recognising the sensitivity and exploration demonstrated by a very talented director. Congratulations!”

Jury: Marion Czarny (Head of Fipadoc Campus), Mette Hoffmann Meyer (CEO and founder of THE WHY Foundation) und Hanns-Georg Rodek (Chief film correspondent for “Die Welt” and freelance author)

Sponsored by FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, endowed with 5,000 euros, awarded cross-series for Bavarian up-and-coming directors.

megaherz Student Award

Director: Lilith Kugler

Chris is on the floor. Literally. Life on the streets is draining. Every day is a battle: to get money for drugs and with a past that derails him. An exceptionally intense and intimate portrait that gets under your skin about a young man who somehow always carries on. He has a neighbourhood that takes care of him – and his buddy Alex. Jan Sebening

Jury statement: “We, the Student Award jury, have chosen a film that touched us from the very first shot, captivated us for 95 minutes in the darkness of the cinema and has not let go ever since. HAUSNUMMER NULL is a courageous film that focuses closely and with a clear view on its protagonist, but also accompanies the important supporting characters through harsh reality with a loving eye. It is an important film because it really engages with this harsh reality that others only glimpse at. And it is also a beautiful film because the camera repeatedly finds images and perspectives that fascinate and gently guide our gaze. Working as a filmmaker also means constantly developing a method to do the subject and the protagonists justice. Maintaining integrity, going where others look away, having confidence in your own project and never losing it: the director has achieved all of this. We congratulate Lilith Kugler on winning the Student Award 2024 for her film HAUSNUMMER NULL.”

Jury: Samuel Albert (Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg), Nina Fritz (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste), Verena Wagner (Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München)

Sponsored by the film production company megaherz, endowed with 3,000 euros, for the winning film in the Student Award series.

kinokino Audience Award, sponsored by BR and 3sat

Directors: Katharina Köster and Katrin Nemec

The media call their son the “patient killer.” He was given a life sentence for his numerous crimes. Life goes on for his parents Ulla and Didi Högel but nothing is the same as before. They must accept the bitter truth, figure out how to cope with everyday life and reposition themselves in relation to their child. A compelling, precisely observed film about parenthood and love. Ysabel Fantou

The award is endowed with 2,000 euros. The namesake and media partner of the audience award is kinokino – Das Filmmagazin im Bayerischen Rundfunk | 3sat.

German Documentary Film Music Award

Composition: Atena Eshtiaghi
Director and author: Farahnaz Sharifi

As early as 8th March 1979, shortly after the Islamic revolution, Iranian women protested against the compulsory wearing of headscarves. MY STOLEN PLANET acts as a reminder of their on-going struggle for freedom and the discrepancy between private and public life. Archive images, Super-8, VHS and mobile phone footage document personal acts of resistance and joie de vivre that call out for “Woman! Life! Freedom!” Silvia Bauer

From the jury statement: “The film music by Atena Eshtiaghi (*1989 in Iran) is particularly effective because of what it does not do. She avoids the conventions of illustrative film music and instead uses silence as a stylistic device for this equally radical and personal film by Farahnaz Sharifi. The director’s private video archive of old Super 8 recordings, edited together with footage of current demonstrations, is highly politically charged against the backdrop of the comprehensive ban on images in Iran. Atena Eshtiaghi gives strong expression to these messages of uncensored life by accompanying the images with minimalist patterns rather than pathetically exaggerating them. This creates a sense of distance and, at the same time, creates spaces of time in which a great sadness is inscribed. Eshtiaghi’s music does not clothe the film in a pleasing rhythm, rather it emphasizes the heterogeneity and creates a resonance space for what the film is about through its precise texture: Isolation, resistance, hope.” 

Jury: Nina Goslar (Film editorial department at ZDF/ARTE), David Langhard (Musician, composer and producer; Award winner 2023), Grete Liffers (Producer, writer and director), Thomas Meinecke (Writer, musician and DJ) and Armando Merino (Conductor)

The award is endowed with 5,000 euros. The composer of the film is being honoured. It is donated by the Versicherungskammer Kulturstiftung.

DOK.edit Award presented by Adobe

Editing: Yaël Bitton and Károly Szalai
Directors: Bálint Révész and Dávid Mikulán

“It might look like we’re just playing. But this is no game, it is dead serious.” Nobody suspects how much truth lies in Sanyi’s statement when Dávid Mikulán embarks on 10 years of filming the young man. From his cramped flat, where his whole family shares a bedroom and there is no room to breathe, Sanyi escapes to the streets of Budapest with his friends. Katharina Dolles

From the jury statement: "In its expressive montage, KIX follows the exuberant energy of its youthful protagonist with great empathy and speed, while at the same time managing to tell the story of what coming-of-age means in the shadow of Victor Orbán's authoritarian Hungary without any voyeurism of misery and with a committed sensibility. The desolate world of Sanyi and his family is directly reflected in the editing, making it possible to physically experience the different aggregate states of Sanyi's life: sometimes breathless, chaotic, wild, then slow, lost and depressive. In quiet moments of melancholy and loneliness, a utopia flashes between the images: Sanyi's fate could have been different. With their radically elliptical narrative style, the two editors succeed in artfully transporting the viewer into the life of Sanyi and his family, as it were."

Jury: Anja Pohl (Film editor), Michael Palm (Editor, filmmaker and sound designer) and Marc Haenecke (Editor, screenwriter and director)

The award was developed in cooperation with Adobe, who are also the sponsors of the 5,000 euros award. Its aim is to shed light on the post-production of documentary films and to honour the work of editors. Films with outstanding editing work are nominated. The prize is awarded across all series.

VFF Documentary Film Production Award

Editing: Oliver Stoltz
Director: Juan Camilo Cruz and Marc Wiese

​​Mismanagement and corruption plunge Venezuela into chaos. Children in particular are suffering hardship. The film shows their harsh reality: violence, drugs, murder and hunger. In Maracaibo two women fight the misery. Carolina’s children’s home is an oasis amid the violence. Kiara flees to Columbia with her children. A film about a country that risks losing an entire generation. Pablo Bücheler

From the jury statement: "It is impressive to see the adverse conditions under which Oliver Stoltz and his team made this film: Without the protection of a gang of youths, filming on location would have been too dangerous; professional camera equipment had to be smuggled in over the border. In a country where foreign camera teams are monitored at every turn, a project like this can only succeed with the utmost conspiracy. To this end, the producer used a local crew. Oliver Stoltz has proven to have nerves of steel and deserves public recognition for the successful completion of this film: in this case, the VFF Documentary Film Production Award 2024."

Jury: Judith Erber (Head of the funding department and consultant at FFF Bayern), Thomas Frickel (Author, director and producer) and previous year`s winner Hauke Wendler (Author, director and producer)

The award was developed in cooperation with Adobe, who are also the sponsors of the 5,000 euros award. Its aim is to shed light on the post-production of documentary films and to honour the work of editors. Films with outstanding editing work are nominated. The prize is awarded across all series.

DOK.fest Award of SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit

Regisseurin: Silje Evensmo Jacobsen

The Norwegian photographer Maria Gros Vatne and her husband Nik decide they want to live close to nature with their four children. The family wants to be free, independent and live self-sufficiently. The children are educated at home. However the idyll comes to an abrupt end: after Maria’s tragic death, the family are forced to rethink how they wish to live and find a way back to modern society. Barbara Off

From the jury statement: “Silje Evensmo Jacobsen guides us through A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS with outstanding dramaturgy. A play of light and shadow and a great cinematic aesthetic take us on this adventure. The film shows a way of life that raises questions about how we all deal with nature and thus poses socio-political questions in a subtle way: How do we live in this world, what do we do with our nature and how do our children learn to relate to environment and nature? In a touching way that makes the viewer immerse deeply in the story, Silje Evensmo Jacobsen evokes deep emotions and calls for reflection about our planet.”

Jury: Prof. Michaela Braun (Member of the friends of SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit), Dr. Ulrich Brochhagen (Managing Director ARD Coordination Documentation), Prof. Nadia Kailouli (Journalist and professor of television journalism), Christine Kehrer (Head of TV/Video SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit), Michaela May (Actress), Prof. Dr. jur. Heribert Prantl (Former member of the Editorship, now Columnist and Author of SZ) and Heike Schnaar (ZDF)

The DOK.fest Award of SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit is donated by B.O.A Videofilmkunst and endowed with 3,000 euros. It honours films across all series that make the perspectives of children and young people visible and tangible in a remarkable way. The award will be presented at DOK.fest München 2024 for the eleventh time.

We would like to thank our award donors, partners and supporters:

  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor
  • Logo Sponsor