Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut


Award winning film 2022 at the 37th DOK.fest München:
LIEBE, D-MARK UND TOD, Germany 2022, Cem Kaya © filmfaust and Film Five


The Goethe-Institut is a worldwide ambassador for German film. 158 Goethe-Instituts in 98 countries show the latest developments in German cinematic art. The Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut honours an outstanding German documentary film of the current year and is endowed with 2,000 euros. From 2022 onwards, the award will be presented in rotation at four different documentary film festivals. The new procedure started at DOK.fest München in May 2022 and will now take place at DOK Leipzig, Duisburger Filmwoche and Kasseler Dokfest festivals at the turn of the year according to the calendar.


Award winner 2023: EINHUNDERTVIER

In October 2023, the Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut was presented for the second time as part of the new awarding procedure that began in 2022. This year, the award ceremony took place at DOK Leipzig, the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. The award-winning film is EINHUNDERTVIER by Jonathan Schörnig (Germany 2023, 93 min.).

The world's deadliest escape route claims thousands of lives every year. In the first half of 2023 alone, almost 2,000 people died in the Mediterranean because the European Union's border policy systematically violates applicable rights. Instead of assisting shipwrecked people, Frontex practices illegal pushbacks, finances the violent actions of the Libyan coast guard and takes massive action against private sea rescue missions that take action where the EU fails. All of this has been documented in the media, and yet it remains incomprehensible to anyone who has not yet had to experience this situation for themselves: How can one deny help to hundreds of people in mortal danger, and even threaten and criminalise the civilian helpers?!
Jonathan Schörnig was preoccupied with the dilemma of lack of perception and decided to put a sea rescue on the screen as a real-time documentary to show how agonisingly long it takes to rescue 104 people from a sinking rubber boat. Person by person, step by step, the film accompanies the action with several parallel cameras. With the appearance of the Libyan coast guard, the situation comes to a head. For days, the rescued people and the crew wait on the high seas, as no Mediterranean country allows them to dock. Only after a bad storm does a port take pity on them. What sounds like a bad script is actually - daily - reality. (Luc-Carolin Ziemann, DOK Leipzig)

Jury 2023

The jury consisted of the following film experts: Cem Kaya, Laureate 2022, Noni Lickleder, Goethe-Institut Head Office Munich, Renata Prokurat, Goethe-Institut Warsaw/Poland

Further information

Award winner 2022: LIEBE, D-MARK UND TOD

In May 2022, the Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut took place for the second time and the award, which was presented at the 37th DOK.fest München, went to LIEBE, D-MARK UND TOD by Cem Kaya (Germany 2022, 96 min.).

A precisely researched, lively and eye-opening tour de force through more than half a century of German-Turkish history: The Turkish guest workers brought their music with them to Germany. "Why were we separated? The cruel train to a foreign country tore you away from me...". Left alone, discriminated against and exploited in a country that was supposed to be their hope and future. The situation of the guest workers was precarious. Listening to their own music was a distraction and comfort, but it also always had a political dimension. Revolt and protest were important contents. A great musical wealth emerged completely under the radar of the German public, a culture with its own stars, labels and cassette shops, which has now reached the second and third generations. A hidden treasure!


Jury 2022

The 2022 jury included Ameer Masoud (cultural mediator, architect and artist), Diana El Jeiroudi (documentary film director and winner of the Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut 2021) and Eva Lautenschlager (consultant in the field of film television radio of Goethe-Institut). Read more

From the jury statement: "One film in particular persuaded the jury with its impressive and thoroughly researched story that will resonate with countless people around the world. The film is full of spirit and rhythm, reflection and emotion in equal measure. The filmmaker has succeeded in making tangible and acknowledging the story of Turkish migration to Germany and its contribution to the country through music."

The nominees 2022

Austria/Germany 2022, Sabine Derflinger, 135 min.

Alice Schwarzer has shaped feminist discourse in Europe since the 1970s like no other woman. She has initiated countless campaigns, never shies away from conflict and is regularly at the centre of controversial debates. Who is this woman and what drives her? A radically subjective portrait of a charismatically fearless woman among those who fight alongside her.


Germany 2022, Uli Decker, 94 min.

Through a family secret revealed on her father's deathbed, Uli Decker is finally able to get closer to her father. In her intimate and life-affirming, award-winning family saga, she takes us on a journey through a life in Upper Bavaria shaped by rigid role models, which prevented the father and daughter from understanding each other throughout their lives.


Germany 2022, Heiko Aufdermauer, Johannes Girke, 86 min.

Sophie and Dominik’s love story takes place on the streets. The two young people sleep in doorways, roam around Berlin and hang out with friends. But a shadow looms over them: Dominik faces a prison sentence. When Sophie falls pregnant, the couple long for their own place to live. Epic and incredibly intimate without passing judgement.


Germany/Switzerland 2021, Nahuel Lopez, 98 min.

Resignation? – Never. As long as Thomas Hoepker has a camera in his hand and his wife at his side, the famous German Magnum photographer remains in good spirits despite his slowly advancing dementia. He still has one big dream to fulfil; one last picture story to tell! A poignant journey that takes us across the USA and into the heart of a major artist.


Germany 2022, Klaus Stern, Frank Marten Pfeiffer, 86 min.

The A49 through the Dannenrod Forest has divided the local population for over 40 years. Through their protests, three generations have been able to delay its extension until now. But for how much longer? The verdict has been passed, the forest is now occupied by activists and the police are already preparing for their eviction, to make way for the machines.


Romania/Germany 2021, Andrei Schwartz, 90 min.

Maria, Tirloi and their relatives have no choice: in their Romanian Roma village there is no work. In order to survive and provide for their families at home, they go begging in Hamburg. For five years, Andrei Schwartz accompanies them with respect and appreciation and shows us people full of dignity, who don’t give up no matter how difficult their situation is.


Germany 2022, Tine Kugler, Günther Kurth, 99 min.

Kalle wants to achieve something. He doesn’t want to be “a ghetto kid, a kid who just messes up and takes drugs…” But life does not treat him kindly. Convicted of assault at the age of 16 – this changes everything. The film follows Kalle through the trials and tribulations of his adolescence, observing him over a period of 10 years.


WINNER 2022:

Germany 2022, Cem Kaya, 96 min.

When the Turkish guest workers arrived in Germany, a diverse music culture developed, completely unnoticed outside of the Turkish community, with its own stars, record labels and hit songs that reflected the difficult arrival in Germany. A dense and meticulously researched film essay. A revelation.


Germany 2022, Joscha Bongard, 74 min.

Nico once approached Jamie in H&M. Today the couple live in an unadorned house in the tax haven of Cyprus. They have sex every day. They call themselves "Jamie Young/Youngcouple9598", make online porn and have made a fortune with it. The film delves into the minds of the two protagonists and shows us their lives – but what is it like behind the façade?


Germany 2022, Vera Brückner, 94 min.

Ex-East, ex-West, the Cold War and a great love affair. How was it? How did it feel? There are films that rely on images and archive and then there are the films that simply recreate everything without further ado in playful detail. A film that crosses borders, with tongue in cheek humour that is one thing above all: a great love story.

Award winner 2021: REPUBLIC OF SILENCE

In autumn 2021, the Documentary Film Award of Goethe-Institut was given to the film REPUBLIC OF SILENCE (Syrian Arab Republic/Germany/France/Italy/Qatar 2021, 181 min.) by Diana El Jeiroudi at the Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animated Film.

With a radically personal view, the director assembles different fragments from her life into an intimate cinematic diary. In doing so, she allows us an insight into Syria's conflict-ridden history of the last 40 years that overwrites the stereotypical images conveyed by the media and thus allows an alternative approach. She uncompromisingly exposes the audience to their injuries and traumas, but also to the violence of war. In a virtuoso montage, she weaves together the diverse possibilities offered by the medium of film. A plea to the world public to be aware and not to remain silent in the face of war and dictatorship.


Jury 2021

The 2021 jury consisted of film experts from the Goethe-Institut: Marina May, Maren Willkomm (both head office of the Goethe-Institut in Munich) and Julian Volz (Goethe-Institut Belgium).