November 2021: Celebrating the MAX project journey

In November, we organised various events to mark the end of the MAX project, from the Award Ceremony of the MAX Diversity Film Festival to the conference and cultural evening of the final event – Building New Narratives: Migration and its contribution to European society.

We would like to warmly thank all the ones that attended, one, two or all the MAX events!

The Award Ceremony took place at the end of the MAX Diversity Film Festival on 5 November 2021, after the Public Watch & Voting period in October 2021, where the audience was able to enjoy the films, vote for their favourites and select the winners of the Festival among the 18 films selected by the 10 jurors and the audience awards: after 3 months of submissions, with a total of 477 films from 82 countries received. During this great ceremony, attended by more than 50 people, the winners of the festival were announced:

  • Sanako directed by Megan Hwee Wen Tan and Clara Sophie Wahlig for Amateur Short Film category
  • Barcelona – A Welcoming City directed by Christin Schuchard for the Amateur Long Films category
  • Henriette’s Way directed by Safia Kessas for the Professional Short Film category
  • Samos. The Face of Our Border directed by Shams Abou El Enein for the Professional Long Film category
  • Brazilians around the world directed by Leidi Turatti for the Audience Awards category

From the struggle and fight for regularisation and security of undocumented migrants in cosmopolitan European cities such as Brussels or Barcelona, the isolation of a migrant women victim of gender-based violence and her way out of an abusive relationship, to the real stories of people living at the border of the Schengen area, in the Greek island of Samos and those of different Brazilian women finding themselves around the world. The five winners of the first edition of the MDFF share different stories that are just a snapshot of the many varying realities that the millions of migrants experience around the globe.

The ceremony was a great opportunity for the audience to meet the winners of the Festival and learn more about these films. Moreover, the jurors also gave contributed to this event. Cesar Diaz attended the meeting and reminded us of the importance of sharing these powerful stories and to keep in mind that solidarity is a universal value. Messages by other jurors, including Assunta Corbo, Yakup Ozun, Sylvia Le Fanu, Sahim Omar, were displayed including. All of them underlined the importance of this kind of competition and to showcase diversity as a value.

Later, in the same month, on 25 and 26 November took place the final event Building New Narratives: Migration and its contribution to European society in Brussels.

On the 25th, the conference brought together more than 100 diverse stakeholders! During the plenary and the parallel sessions, the audience had the possibility to hear and debate the findings of the MAX project and, most importantly, the voices and experiences of the migrants, as well as all those actors working on social inclusion and migration policies at local, national and EU levels, to continue working together for real inclusive societies. You can find here the agenda of the event and the speakers who attended; more than 40 speakers joined the event (including members of the EU institutions, United Nations, migrant-led organisations, local authorities, civil society, etc.)

When opening the event, Adem Kumcu, president of UNITEE, stated that “Cracking an atom is easier than cracking prejudices. But I am an optimistic person. Just remember what Europe was like before the EU & appreciate what has been achieved.”

When discussing the research finding, Dr Charlie Dannreuther mentioned that “We repeatedly see migrants defined as ‘others’ by public services: this creates inequality. Europe needs to listen to migrants to think about how they are the solution to many of our problems”.

When addressing the topic of changing the narrative, Professor Monder Ram suggested that “It’s not the empirical evidence that moves people, but the human narratives.”

In the closing panel, Michael Shotter, Director for Migration, Asylum and Visa of DG Home, said that “The Max Project helps to better understand what migrants bring to society and we need to amplify the positive narratives that came out of it. Each migrant is an individual, not a statistic“.

The second day of the MAX final event was a cultural evening where the role of art, culture and creativity in changing the narrative was highlighted through a film screening, music, food, literature and art exhibitions. The event started with an opening from Adem Kumcu, president of UNITEE, and a panel discussion with two of the jurors of the MAX Diversity Film festival: César Diaz and Lidija Zelovic. Later on, the audience could enjoy a film screening of two winner films from the Festival (“Sanako” and “Samos. The Face of Our Border”), art exhibitions and food made by migrants and about different religious festivities. The evening ended with two concerts from multicultural bands: Tatryos Ensemble and In C. The evening was also attended by more than 100 people!

If you wish to meet one last time the partners of the MAX project as well as the jurors and winners of the Diversity Film Festival, stay tuned for the upcoming Max Diversity Film Festival Reunion taking place on December 15!