68th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg

14.11.2019 to 24.11.2019
Mannheim and Heidelberg

The Iranian feature film "Rona, Azim's Mother" by Jamshid Mahmoudi won the € 2,500 Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the IFF Mannheim-Heidelberg 2019. The jury also awarded a Special Mention to "The Grizzlies" by Miranda de Pencier from Canada.

The festival prizes were not awarded this year by a jury, but by the audience. As a farewell to festival director Michael Kötz, the festival management thus set a special accent. Kötz has been responsible for the festival - which he took over as International Film Festival Mannheim - since 1992. At the Ecumenical Reception of the Churches, his accomplishments in making the festival a "Festival of Newcomers" were acknowledged by appointing him Honorary Member of INTERFILM.

The Grand Newcomer Award Mannheim-Heidelberg 2019 went ex aequo to "On the Roof" by Jiri Madl from the Czech Republic and "The Grizzlies". Miranda de Pencier's film also received a recommendation from the cinema operators. "Under the Turquoise Sky" by Kentaro from Japan won the Talent Award of Mannheim-Heidelberg, as well as the Prize of the International Film Critics Jury (Fipresci).

Link: Festival website


Rona, Azim's Mother
Directed by:

In the city’s metabolism, work in the essential sewer system provides a basic lively hood for Afghani Azim and his family in Iran. Azim’s capacity to bear suffering seems boundless. What finally breaks his strength and resolve, as well as his set of values, is the collapse of his mother’s metabolism, a life-threatening failure that can only be treated with a kidney transplant by donation.  Traditions and laws, conscience and the need to survive, love of one’s mother, feeding the family, living without rights but with a sense of duty, flight, patriarchal decision making, nationalism and religion collide with Iranian theocracy. The right to pursue life and survival is nonetheless sacrosanct. The film moves us because Azim is amongst us, in our society, within each of us. How do you live with death, when does life end, how far are you willing to go for what and who is holy to you? The path to the end of life can only be taken, when we hold on to one another in love and let each other go in love.

Directed by:

The film takes place amongst the Inuit, who across generations are still traumatized by the forced assimilations of the past. This is a story based on actual events, of a non-Inuit, a white teacher who is full of illusions, and whose theoretical teaching ethos is confronted with the unusually high number of suicides amongst young Inuits in particular. Everything in his classroom changes as he introduces Lacrosse as part of the curriculum, a sport that historically helped settle differences between Native American tribes. With this change and through the values of the sport, pupils are able to find a way out for themselves, towards respect for the essentials in their traditional values of family and community.