Internationales Festival Zeichen der Nacht - Berlin - International Festival Signs of the Night


18th International Festival Signs of the Night - Berlin (6th Edition) - September 16 - 20, 2020


Electric Swan

Konstantina Kotzamani
France, Greece, Argentina / 2019 / 0:40:00


Buildings are not supposed to move. But on Avenida Libertador 2050, a building moves and the ceiling shivers, causing a strange nausea..


Jury Declaration:

"Electric Swan" by Konstantina Kotzamani was chosen as the winner of the Main Award because of its original and engaging depiction of people living in a tower block and how their disparate lives intertwine. This innovative and surrealist format of combining modern city living with the legend of Swan Lake comes through engagingly, all seen through the eyes of a central protagonist, a quiet and unassuming security guard.

Director Statement:

I want to thank you for supporting my work all these years and also thank the jury for these warm words.



Karim Bengana
Algeria, France / 2019 / 00:29:12


In 1995, during the Algerian civil War, Touiza, Madame’s dog dies. Yasmine, her maid has to leave supposedly to visit her aunt. Afraid to be alone, Madam will do anything to have her stay.



Jury Declaration:

"Touiza" by Karim Bengana deserved an honorable mention because of the performances of the two leads and the way it builds up tension and suspense while still surprising us with its denouement. In this way it becomes a revisionist character study, both in terms of the narrative itself and the back story. The mystery and motivation of the main protagonist endures long after the credits roll.


The Present

Farah Nabulsi
Palestine / 2019 / 00:24:16


On his wedding anniversary, Yusef and his daughter, Yasmine, set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift. Between the soldiers, segregated roads and checkpoints, how easy would it be to go shopping?



Jury Declaration:

"The Present" by Farah Nabulsi is a film that was highly commended not least for a strong performance from a child actor. More than this it depicts in candid detail a day in the life of a Palestinian family suffering from the consequences of the wall that runs along the West Bank and the humiliation and intimidation that is suffered in order fulfill basic civil liberties like shopping.



The Signs Award honours films, which treat an important subject in an original and convincing way

The Physics of Sorrow

Physique de la tristesse
Theodore Ushev
Canada / 2019 / 0:27:00


"The Physics of Sorrow" tracks an unknown man’s life as he sifts through memories of his youth in Bulgaria through to his increasingly rootless and melancholic adulthood in Canada.


Jury Declaration:

"The Physics of Sorrow" by Theodore Ushev was chosen as the Signs Award winner because of its perfection in animation, editing and narration. A multi-layered film with an almost timeless qulity, the lament for childhood from the perspective of later years, transported to another time and place, draws us in with an almost inexplicable and hypnotic beauty.


How to Disappear

Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf
Austria / 2019 / 0:21:00

Is it possible to desert in a shooter game? Along this question, "How to Disappear" reflects on war and game, discipline and disobedience. For the history of defiance is as old as the history of war - and yet the act of desertion goes beyond the game's space of action. Shot in the martial yet picturesque war landscapes of the online shooter "Battlefield V", the hyperreal graphics become the backdrop for an essay-like narrative. The narrator's voice creates a crack through which physical-real realities penetrate the depoliticized fun stage of the game. Using performances and interventions in the digital battlefield, "How to Disappear" explores the scope and limits of the audiovisual entertainment machine..


Jury Declaration:

"How to Disappear", co-directed by Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf, was bestowed with an honorable mention because of its transient use of the popular online games medium to both educate and inform. In voice-over essay-like narrative, a simulacrum is in play and asks the thought-provoking philosophical question of whether one can be a war deserter here in the same way as the physical world.

Directors Statement:

We are very glad about the Mention at the Signs Award as for our anti-war essay "How to Disappear". It shows that the relevance of the conteporary entertainment media of video games with their specific narrations, spaces and aesthetics is more and more recognized, also in the film world. And, furthermore, that the topic of deserting is met with interest, especially as these acts of disobedience are an often overlooked aspect of history and presence. Thank you!



Huang Weipeng
China / 2020 / 0:09:24


An elegy composed of four sections, To the elderly who ended their lives peacefully and tragically in despair.


Jury Declaration:

"Splash" by Huang Weipeng was deserving of an honorable mention because of its crafting of a four-part requiem to the elderly people of China that serves as a lament to times past and how the older generation are forgotten in a fast-changing world. The professional and compelling structure of this elegy strikes a chord in its artistic projection.

The Night Award honours films, which are able to balance ambiguity and complexity characterised by enigmatic mysteriousness and subtlenss,
which keeps mind and consideration moving


Tone Ottilie
Danemark / 2019 / 0:19:00

Frede accompanies her big sister to a queer party in the hope of winning back her ex-girlfriend. Labelled by the older girls as Babydyke, all she can do is take the plunge: Chin up and stay cool. This film describes the broad palette of interpersonal emotions with great sensitivity and dramatic intensity. In a rhythm of light and shadow, the gulf closes between own desires and the expectations of others.


Jury Declaration:

The winner of the Night Award was "Babydyke" by Tone Ottilie and stood out because of its depiction of the young lesbian community with understanding and defiance. Along with fine performances by the young all-female cast, it is also commendable for individual resolve in the face of torment and personal torture. The close-up photography with hand-held cameras serves in its purpose of making this sub-world both claustrophobic and hypnotic.

Director Statement:

Thank you so much for the award. The film is very much my own coming of age story and another and more inside view of what being in the queer scene can mean. I have found so much love, support and community when I was a teenager coming out, but also a lot of social pressure and misunderstandings. Everyone is just trying to navigate their own identities in the face of a hetero and cis-normative world, and that can sometimes create problems inside the community. I was 21 when I shot the film and at the same age as many of the actors, many who are my friends and have never been in a film before. It means so much to me, that this film travels around the world, and that I get to show a little side of the kind of queer women and people that I admire and see around me.



Esteban Santana
Chile / 2019 / 0:20:00


Descending from the heights of Puerto, Celso, a done-for and miserable poet, submerges himself in the ruined streets of the city and comes across odd individuals hidden in the depths of a disused port.


Jury Declaration:

"Abisal" by Esteban Santana was given an honorable mention because of its existential portrait of a faded poet who has lost the will to partake in society so submerges in the depths of a Chilean seaport. The acting and atmosphere make for a unique portrayal of a city and those of its residents who are otherwise inconspicuous within its ruined streets.

Director Statement:

Estimados amigos estamos muy emocionados de vuestra mención y de las palabras del jurado que interpretan muy bien las intenciones de nuestra forma de entender el cine. Nos motiva a seguir haciendo películas y contando historias desde esta lejana parte del mundo.

Dear friends, we are very excited about your mention and the word of the jury that interpret the intentions of our way of understanding cinema very well. It motivates us to continue making movies and telling stories from this far away part of the world.


Sewing Box for My Daughter

Kieko Ikehata
Japan / 2020 / 0:15:53


Two mothers answer interview questions about their daughters. They took completely opposite actions to their own daughters. That was to relive their own lives over again... In Japan, women are bound to their homes. Discarding their own surnames to become a wife and take over the home. The husband is called the head of the family and the wife is called the one in the home. Although times may change, the oppression of women certainly exists. Freeing their unfulfilled wishes through their daughters. The everlasting stories of these women who keep dreaming...


Jury Declaration:

The film "Sewing Box for My Daughter" by Kieko Ikehata deserved its honorable mention because of how it depicts a contemporary Japanese society that is still bound up with its traditional but oppressive ways. Two women answer questions of how they brought up their daughters and it soon becomes clear that it is the only possibility for them to have a second chance at reliving their own childhood by going down a different path, of dreaming another l ife.

Director Statement:

This work is a mixture of facts and fiction. However, it is certain that there are various conflicts that Japanese women living in the present age have. In the past, it was very important to give birth to a boy, but nowadays women have a strong desire to give birth to a daughter, and there are various complex feelings swirling around.
My dream is to make a work with my daughter, who is 3 years old, and my mother, who is over 60 years old, for three generations. I will do my best in the future.


The Edward Snowden Award honours films, which offer sensitive (mostly) unknown informations, facts and phenomenons of eminent importance,
for which the festival wishes a wide proliferation in the future

War of Perception

Bo Choy
Hong Kong / 2020 / 0:19:47


The film follows the journey of a spirit medium through the streets of Hong Kong. In a society where lies and rumours abound, she is on a quest to search for the truth, by collecting messages from the spirits. Weaving through political events that occurred in Hong Kong in 2019/20 with cityscapes, the personal and domestic everyday, War of Perception is a cinematic poetry that reflects on the relationship between the city’s colonial past and present.



Jury Declaration:

Bo Choy’s "War of Perceptiion" was the outstanding winner of the Edward Snowden Award because of its depiction of a journey through past and present Hong Kong in the form of a spirit and reflection. The spirit serves as the personification of a city that still lives with unresolved tensions from its colonial past and how it transposes to the present. This is depicted through archive footage of the director who has long since left Hong Kong, juxtaposed with the present cityscape, therefore representing familiarity combined with the status of an outsider.



Diana Saqeb Jamal
Afghanistan / 2019 / 0:11:00


After surviving a suicide bomb attack, 12-year-old Roqaia finds herself in the middle of a media frenzy, as she deals with her trauma all by herself.


Jury Declaration:

"Roqaia" by Diana Saqeb Jamal deserved an honorable mention because of the way it depicts war and atrocity through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl and the traumatic effects this causes that is rarely addressed. The media frenzy caused by a suicide bombing neglects the effect it has on the young but Roqaia fully accounts for this void as the central character delivers a mature and compelling performance.

Director Statement:

I am so delighted for your recognition of our short film" Roqaia", Let me thank and appreciate this honorable mention award on behalf of our team and Roqaia, We are looking forward for a better future for Afghan people and Afghan kids. My gratitude and love to you all



Haeseong Jeong
South Korea / 2019 / 0:24:33


Chased by loan sharks, a man takes desperate measures. He kidnaps a child. But the child has been abandoned by her own parents

Jury Declaration:

The Special Jury Award was won by Haeseong Jeong for his film Accompany because of its depiction of personal torture leading to erratic behavior that is caused by the wider society and how one man redeems himself through the innocence of a young girl. With fast narrative pacing and variables, it was elevated to winner by strong performances, particularly the young child actor in a memorable non-speaking role.