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The 36th Caligari Film Prize will be awarded to Shengze Zhu, a filmmaker born in Wuhan, China and living in the USA, for her documentary A RIVER RUNS, TURNS, ERASES, REPLACES (USA 2021, 87 min) from the programme of the Berlinale Forum 2021.

Yesterday, the Berlinale Forum started its Summer Special in Open Air cinemas. Despite the "somewhat different Berlinale" due to the pandemic, the 36th Caligari Film Prize will also be awarded in 2021. Since 1986, the prize, donated by the German Association of Municipal and Cultural Cinemas together with Filmdienst, has honoured a stylistically and thematically innovative film from the programme of the Berlinale Forum, thus highlighting the special significance of this section of the Berlin International Film Festival for cultural cinema work in this country.

The award is endowed with 4,000 euros, half of which goes to the prize-winner, while the other half is used for promotional measures to support cinema distribution throughout Germany after the festival. The jury, consisting of Wolfgang Hamdorf (filmdienst.de), Elena Baumeister (Filmmuseum Potsdam) and Antonia Papagno (Kommunales Kino Trossingen), provided the following jury statement:

"A RIVER RUNS, TURNS, ERASES, REPLACES is not a film that easily carries you off right from the first shot. But then the extraordinary framing and the multi-layered sound draws the audience in all the more strongly. The film's stylistic consistency is captivating: in tableau-like long shots, the film captures the sadness and stagnation during and after the Corona pandemic. Moments of loneliness and isolation, even as we watch celebrations and crowds in the frame are matched by the sadness and inner emptiness of the superimposed characters. Director Shengze Zhu turns the river, its banks and bridges into a poetic image of her hometown Wuhan in contemporary China. And while the coldness of a surveillance camera marks the beginning of the film, it leads to hope after despair. Artificial light makes the city shine in rainbow colors."

The award-winning film will be screened for the first time on 17.6.2021 at 9:30 pm at Atelier Gardens Freiluftkino @ BUFA, there will be another screening of the film on 20.6.2021 at 9:30 pm at silent green Kulturquartier (Gerichtstraße 35, 13347 Berlin). A cinema tour of the 35th Caligari Film Prize winning film VICTORIA (Belgium 2020) by Sofie Benoot, Liesbeth De Ceulaer and Isabelle Tollenaere is planned for September 2021.

Further information on the film: an audio conversation between the director and James Lattimer (Berlinale Forum Selection Committee), a written commentary by Shengze Zhu on her hometown Wuhan and on her film, as well as an essay on the film by media and cultural studies scholar Elena Meilicke. 

Director Shengze Zhu says thank you

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