Cinematheque Prize 2021
Press release, 2 Nov 21
Press release, 2 Nov 21
The 22nd annual award of the Association of German Cinematheques took place against the background of the covid 19 pandemic. Many cinemas were closed for much or part of the last year, putting their very existence under threat, so this year’s Cinematheque Prize was awarded above all in a spirit of provided support in solidarity. The total of 30,000 euro in prize money was distributed among 26 theatres that deserved recognition for their handling of the crisis.
After looking at all the submissions, the jury was deeply impressed with the energy and creativity that cinema operators invested in maintaining, or even expanding, their contact with audiences. The concept of cinema as one of the most approachable forms of art and entertainment was more than confirmed.
In choosing the winners, the jury examined both structural issues, as well as the precarious financial situation of many movie theatres and their employees, or the members of their collectives. The online films and virtual presence that arose during the pandemic earned recognition, but should not be seen as a replacement for live moviegoing, but rather in service to it; the idea is to make it possible, the digital form notwithstanding, for a perhaps even greater audience to experience films as a community.
The Lotte Eisner Prize, the Association of German Cinematheques’ top award, was divided among four cinemas. Those four prizes, each worth 2,000 euro, went to the following cinemas:
The Filmforum Höchst, situated on the edge of Frankfurt am Main, and part of the state school for continuing education, which despite everything provided audiences with a diverse programme, including film series (“Plansequenz”, “Kino der Weimarer Republik”, “Fellini”), and thematic festivals (“Cinebrasil” and “Cuba im Film”), as well as open-air screenings. The award is also intended to provide additional encouragement in the wake of the cinema passing down a generation.
The Kommunale Kino Freiburg mounted a variety of campaigns to stay in touch with its audiences. Particularly deserving of mention is the “Living Walls Cinema Migrations”, during which short film programmes (some with live piano accompaniment) were shown on building walls in the city’s interior courtyards. The programme in the theatre itself also provided audiences with a chance for cinematic journeys, for instance with the work of Ulrike Ottinger.
The Kommunale Kino Metropolis was extremely proactive. Among its activities was the “glass archive” with video miniatures from the archive of Hamburg’s cinematheque, an Advent calendar quiz with a drawing for free tickets, the Hamburg cinema calendar, the “archive consultation hours”, and – in the theatre itself, the film series “a look into the archives”, screening 16mm and 35mm prints from that archive.
And the Kommunale Kino Pforzheim took the concept of open-air movies to the edge and implemented it in an original way. The staff organised not only a drive-in, but took mobile projection equipment to a cloister, a church, a museum, a school, and a highway construction site.
An additional 22 cinemas were honoured for their work with a prize of 1000 euro each:
Sinema Transtopia (Berlin)
City 46 / Kommunalkino (Bremen)
Kino achteinhalb (Celle)
Club Cinema in the Lingnerschloss (Dresden)
Pupille (Frankfurt am Main)
Kino im Sprengel (Hannover)
Lodderbast Kino (Hannover)
Kino in der Pumpe – Kommunales Kino Kiel
Kommunales Kino der VHS (school of continuing education) Leverkusen
Cinema Quadrat (Mannheim)
Kommunales Kino Rendsburg
Kino achteinhalb (Saarbrücken)
Kommunales Kino Trossingen
Kommunales Kino Weiterstadt
Honorary Prize of the Cinematheque Association for services to film culture and legacy
The Honorary Prize in 2021 went to Jan-Christopher Horak for his committed work over many years in the area of cultural film work. He was the keynote speaker and a guest at this year’s film heritage festival Film Restored.
This year’s festival under the aegis of the Cinematheque Association was titled “Cinematic Migrations”, which might be the motto of the life and career of Jan-Christopher Horak. Born in 1951 in Bad Münstereifel to Czech immigrants, the family moved to the US when he was still a child, returning to Germany in 1964. He studied in the US before doing his doctorate at Münster University with a thesis entitled “Anti-Nazi-Filme der deutschsprachigen Emigration von Hollywood 1939-1945” (“Anti-Nazi Films by German Speaking Hollywood Emigrés 1939 – 1945”, 1984). Among von Horak’s numerous publications during that period, two are worth mentioning that he co-wrote with Ute Eskildsen that foreshadow his interest in the link between avant-garde film and photography. “Film und Foto der zwanziger Jahre” (1979) and “Helmar Lerski, Lichtbildner. Fotografien und Filme 1910–1947” (1982). Horak was a lead film archivist at George Eastman House and the Munich Film Museum before being chosen as the founding director of Universal Studios’ corporate archive. After a brief stint working for the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, he was the director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the second-largest in the US, from 2007 to 2019. While there, he displayed his commitment to encouraging diversity in filmmaking and initiated projects like “LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema”, or one to preserve and present Spanish-language films produced in 1930s Hollywood for America’s Latino community and the Latin American market. Another focus of Horak’s work is American avant-garde cinema before 1945, largely created by filmmakers either from Europe or heavily influenced by European filmmakers.
The jury congratulated the prize winners and wished all the cinemas and their staff continued strength and creativity with live audiences that recognise, value, and support their commitment.
The five-person expert jury is appointed for three years. Since 2019, it has been made up of Carolin Weidner (German film critics association), Michael Höfner (AG distribution), Doris Kuhn (German Association of Municipal and Cultural Cinemas ), Madeleine Bernstorff (Cinematheque Association), and Philipp Aubel (German Federation of Film Clubs for Children and Young People).
Due to covid restrictions, the award ceremony 2021 could not be held at the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. Instead the winners were honoured with a video, which can be seen at the Deutsche Kinemathek website along with photos of the winning cinemas.
The prize is awarded by the German Association of Cinematheques.
The prize and the Film Restored festival are made possible by funds from the German Ministry of Culture.