The online MAX Diversity Film Festival (MDFF), is an event created by the MAX project, whose aim is to change the narrative around migration by training, researching, and communicating not only figures and facts but also putting on the front the stories of real people. One of our key objectives is to create more spaces, both online and physical, to promote encounters among native-born citizens and newcomers to interact, share experiences, and have joint debates.
About the Diversity Film Festival
The MAX Diversity Film Festival provided both amateur and professional filmmakers with a place to showcase their voices, stories and experiences of migration – embracing diversity, discussing challenges, inequalities and discrimination, but also celebrating the power of multiculturalism and communities united in diversity. The competition took place during the period May to October 2021.
The film festival has been a unique opportunity to celebrate diversity in Europe. Faced with the rise of xenophobic and anti-migrant discourses, we all play a very important role in informing and shaping perceptions.
Therefore, we invited filmmakers to join the MAX project to counteract negative attitudes and behaviours towards migrants to raise awareness about the risks of human rights violations and many other difficulties they face and to recognise the contribution that diversity has in our current societies as well as the active role that individuals and groups of different ethnic, cultural or racial minorities play in local development. This initiative promoted and supported the cultural sector heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
All entries were submitted for one of the 2 categories: amateurs and professionals. Within these 2 competition categories, there were the following subcategories:
- Short Films: amateur or professional filmmakers submit films in the form of short video documentaries or testimonials that portray different aspects of the migration journey, or the contribution migrants or intercultural activities run with or for migrants make in different fields (intercultural activities, sport, labour market integration, education and training, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, empowerment, etc.). Short animated films were also welcome within this subcategory.
- Long Films: amateur or professional filmmakers submit films presenting narrative long-form fictional or real stories, such as a personal migration story which may show the challenges and opportunities of the journey or integration process. Here, submissions that focus on communities and community projects related to migration were also welcomed.
- Audience Awards: All eligible entries that were not pre-selected by the jury remain in the competition. The non-finalist film that collected the most votes received the Audience Award.
The Finalists of the MDFF
A total of 477 films were submitted from 82 countries. A total of 73 films were pre-selected based on the festival eligibility rules and principles and further evaluated by the jury, who chose the finalists under each category. The 18 MDFF finalists were announced on 1st October 2021.
The finalists of the Amateur Short Film were:
- Passing by, Navid shabanzadeh, Marco de Bartolomeo
- Sanako, egab Hwee Tan and Clara Sophie Wahlig
- Negrophilia, Navid shabanzadeh, Marco de Bartolomeo
- Near our border, Martina Troxler
- Near but faraway, Ram Dee and Rahman Gbla
The finalists of the Amateur Long Film were:
- Barcelona, a welcoming city, Christin Schuchardt
- I am not upset, Gabi Wondra
The finalists of the Professional Short Film category were:
- Dolapo is fine, Ethosheia Hylton
- Strikingly human, Uta Arning
- Remember when we used to take the train, Patricio Alfaro
- Invisible borders, Samuel Kay Forrest
- Henriette’s way, Safia Kessas
The finalists of Professional Long Film were:
- Les heritières – the inheritors, Charlotte Diament
- A way home, Karima Saïdi
- Samos. The face of our border, Shams Abou El Enein
- One family, Christian Carmosino Mereu
- Sweet meadow, Jasmin Preiß
- A day in the life of refugees, John Lippman
MDFF competition - The Watch & Vote period
From October 4th to 29th 2021, MDFF launched the Watch & Vote period during which all films were broadcast online for the public to watch and vote for their favourites. Each voter could vote for one film per category to elect their favourite films among the finalists of the 4 categories and the audience award among the eligible but non-finalists films. In total, MDFF received almost 2,300 votes from the audience. The final ranking was determined by combining the public vote on the MDFF platform and the score by the members of the jury, with each group weighing 50%.
The Winners of the MDFF
Winners were announced during the Award Ceremony which took place online on the 5th of November 2021. Watch the Awards Ceremony below:
Winners of the MAX Diversity Film Festival were:
- Amateur Short Film - Sanako directed by Megan Hwee Tan and Clara Sophie Wahlig.
The film showcases a delicate situation. After the passing of her father, the relationship between her and her mother changes for the worse. With that going on, Sanako, the protagonist, is trapped in a physically and mentally abusive relationship. Now, Sanako only sees one way out… The film aims to raise awareness about mental health while highlighting the mental and emotional challenges to which migrants are especially vulnerable.
- Amateur Long Film - Barcelona - a welcoming city directed by Christin Schuchardt.
The film is an ethnographic documentary that gives a deep insight into the everyday life, functioning and networking of diverse migrant communities in Barcelona and documents their persistent fight against the prevailing racist power relations. Watch the film here
- Professional Short Film - Henriette’s way directed by Safia Kessas.
The film tells the story of Henriette, a young single mother, and an undocumented person who is a delegate of the collective of the voice of the undocumented. Every day, she fights with the support of her lawyer, Maitre Lurquin, to house undocumented families in the heart of Brussels. Watch the film here
- Professional Long Film - Samos. The face of our border directed by Shams Abou El Enein.
At the border of the Schengen Area, international laws and conventions forced thousands of people to live in inhuman camps. One of them is the « hotspot » of Samos, on the island that has the same name. Focusing on the people in and around this migrant camp the films also gives an insight into the European politics that have led to this catastrophic situation. This is not inspired by a true story. These are true stories. Their stories, making our History. Watch the trailer here
- Audience Award - Brazilians around the world directed by Leidi Turatti.
The film is a short documentary that presents the lives of 5 Brazilian women living in 5 different countries. Through their personal records and testimonies, the short documentary shows a glimpse of emotions that are absolutely intrinsic to the life of an immigrant and how this experience changed them forever. Watch the film here
The jurors of the DFF
International jurors evaluated the movies submitted to the Film Festival:
- Assunta Corbo, an expert journalist in solutions journalism
- César Diaz, film director, scriptwriter and editor
- Sophie Roland, film director and expert journalist in solutions journalist
- Yakup Uzun, actor, producer and scriptwriter
- Lidija Zelovic, producer, researcher, film director and scriptwriter.
- Sylvia le Fanu, writer, film director
- Tim de Keersmaecker, former psychiatric nurse and film director
- Sahim Omar Kalifa, film director and member of the Academy Awards ‘The Oscars’
- Umit Vurel, Video producer, director, cameraman, editor, actor.
- Toby Johnson, journalist, social economy expert and co-ordinator of the MAX project
MDFF post-ceremony REUNION
On the 15th of December 2021, on the eve of celebrating the International Migrants Day that happened on the 18th of December, MDFF hosted a post Award Ceremony Reunion. The aim of the Reunion was to hear the messages from filmmakers and debate together how storytelling through art can communicate to the audience the large variety of stories and realities of people on the move around the world for a better-nuanced narrative about migration.
Christin Schuchardt (Barcelona a welcoming city), Leidi Turatti (Brazilians around the world), Safia Kessas (Henriette’s way), Shams Abou El Enein (Samos. The faces of our border) and some finalists such as Jasmin Preiß (Sweet Meadow), John Lippman (A day in the life of refugees) and Navid shabanzadeh (Negrophilia) were some of the filmmakers that joined the Reunion to share their views on how films can be a powerful vehicle to deconstruct wrong perceptions about migration and generate empathy.