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


8. Internationales Festival Zeichen der Nacht / Berlin Edition
21th International Festival Signs of the Night / Worldwide

November 1 - 5, 2023
Kino in der Königstadt - - Space : movie members GmbH - Saarbrücker Straße 24 - Berlin Prenzlauer Berg




Daniel Kötter
Germany / 2023 / 1:36:23

Landshaft sketches the psychogeography of a geopolitically charged landscape and its inhabitants between extractivism, war and displacement. In the form of a journey in eastern Armenia, the film follows human and non-human actors as they make their way through the landscape, from Lake Sevan to the Sotk gold mine, occupied by Azerbaijan since the Karabakh War in 2020.


Jury Declaration:

"Landshaft" wins the Main Prize for its ability to reflect uncertainty and tension, namely the unique use of sound and image collage that successfully appropriates the ongoing border conflict of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Psychogeography in filmic form is subsequently and innovatively taken to a new dimensional level. Not least, there is some stunning cinematography of the natural environment in a serene representation that belies the historical events happening within.


The Signs Award for Documentary honors films, which express in a surprising and sensitive way the perturbing aspects of reality

The Brother

Bong Thom
Ahmed Zaradasht
Norway / 2022 / 1:24:00

Heng lives with his close knit deeply Buddhist family in rural Cambodia, who work hard struggling as farmers. At 6, he lost both his arms in a landmine explosion. Now, as a teenager hanging with the wrong crowd, and no future at the farm, his mother sends him to his older brother, Chana, who makes romantic music videos in the bustling city of Phnom Penh. Here, with a bossy brother, amid a So-Me, “wanna-be” culture, Heng must make it. A film about a family who are living the consequences of war which ended decades ago.



Jury Declaration:

This candid "then and now" portrayal of a young boy who overcame losing his limbs and near-death is the deserved Signs winner. Now a spirited teenager, he is shown making his way in the world with determination despite the traumatic childhood event casting a semi-permanent shadow. Most poignantly, the film reminds us that, although the war in Cambodia "officially" ended in 1996, we should also remember that the end of conflict does not mean the end of suffering.



The Night Award for Documentary honors films, which represent reality in an ambivalent and enigmatic way, avoiding stereotypes of representation
and simple conclusions


Siddhant Sarin, Debankon S. Solanky
India / 2022 / 1:10:00

A momentary act of revenge transformed the lives of two young Indian women forever. After surviving an acid attack, while carrying scars of human brutality on their face, both Ritu and Faraha learn to redefine their lives through a sea of odd currents daily. Strangely enough, Ritu’s scars also brought her some fame, she occasionally finds herself talking on television, modelling at fashion events, or featuring in a Bollywood film… still, she often feels lonely. She wants to be loved and embraces an ambiguous relationship with a fellow female acid attack survivor. On the other hand, Faraha has come to terms with her post-attack singlehood and her new lease of life. As she begins to enjoy the freedom and independence, a desire to become a mother slowly brews within her. By intertwining the shadows and lights, and hope and hopelessness in Ritu and Faraha’s life, Ayena becomes a mirror where we can also see our own reflections.



Jury Declaration:

Mirror stands out for its ability to present a raw and cruel reality without succumbing to voyeurism. It immerses the viewer in the heart of the suffering inflicted on women who have survived violence that leave them with indelible scars, both physical and psychological, throughout their lives. The true feat of the film lies in its illumination of the immeasurable courage and resilience of these women. By avoiding sensational exploitation, the documentary unveils the narratives of these survivors in front of a mirror of truth. This transcends the boundaries of cinema and the region discussed, contributing to the awareness and understanding of the challenges women face everywhere.


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

Unsettling Dust

Tineke van Veen, Barbara Prezel
Netherlands /2022 / 0:08:49

Unsettling Dust, a collaborative short film project, explores the lived, bodily experience of radiation by focusing on the relationship between post-nuclear landscapes, radioactive dust and breathing. It draws attention to Fort de Vaujours, a former nuclear weapon testing site on the outskirts of Paris and asks what it means to be living with the threat of contagion, with doubt cast upon your every single breath.



Jury Declaration:

A most exemplary entry, the findings here underline the larger public concerns about global radiation and withheld information from the higher authorities. Unsettling Dust searches deep for an inconvenient truth which both informs and scares in equal measure. The hidden outcome is alarming and ultimately pessimistic.


The Hunchback of Place Pompidou

Shayan Rahmati
France / 2022 / 0:30:00

This film retraces part of the daily life of an old hunchbacked man, Giuseppe, living on the margins of society in order to fully live his fight, to take care of pigeons.



Jury Declaration:

With this dive into urban marginality centered around the cultural hub of one of the most famous cities in the world, Rahmati guides us, without commentary, through a striking visual narrative featuring birds and their benefactor, observed by passersby and tourists eager to fuel their virtual spaces, while human reality and a radical quest for freedom unfold before our eyes.


A Medic

Alizhan Nasirov
Kyrgyzstan / 2023 / 00:24:00

This film tells the story of a young, 22-year-old doctor who decided to work in a valley with severe climate conditions, where no other doctor agreed to work.



Jury Declaration:

"A Medic" gets a Special Mention because of the portrayal of a sympathetic young doctor who gives people help and hope in the remote regions of Kyrgyzstan, with all its challenges of nature and severe weather. It is conveyed directly that the doctor loves his job with heart and soul and no words are needed to explain this during the film as the camera is "speaking" his words. Ultimately, the film conveys much about the culture and tradition in this region of Central Asia.


Sarura. The Future Is an Unknown Place

Nicola Zambelli
Italy / 2022 / 1:20:00

At the gates of the Negev desert, a group of young Palestinians fight against the Israeli military occupation. "Youth of Sumud” - the youth of steadfast perseverance - try to return to their people the land that was taken from their families, restructuring the ancient cave village of Sarura. They face aggression with nonviolent action, defending themselves from rifles with their video cameras; they oppose desolation and death with hope and life.
Ten years after their first documentary on the nonviolent struggle in the West Bank, the directors return to the village of At-Tuwani and, using archival material more than 15 years old, tell how the children have grown up.
Today the caves of Sarura have been restored by a group of young Palestinians, gathered in a collective called “Youth of Sumud” (resistance): they are the sons and daughters of nonviolent militants of the popular resistance committee of the adjacent village of At- Tuwani, who for more than 20 years have managed to resist evacuation attempts of their land thanks to nonviolent actions and the solidarity of Israeli and international peace activists. The boys and girls of YOS are trying to bring back life in the village of Sarura, planting olive trees, escorting the shepherds of the area with their cameras and helping other villages threatened with eviction orders by the Israeli government with their presence. A fragile but powerful struggle, capable of undermining the expansion plans of the government of Israel that would like to remove all the shepherds of the area. With “Tomorrow’s Land” (2010) we talked about At-Tuwani’s experience of resistance, today with “Sarura” we want to imagine the future that will come together with the new generation.



Jury Declaration:

"Sarura" stands out for its understated and devoid-of-narrative-gimmicks approach. Through raw visual storytelling, the documentary delves into the insidious nature of the poison of colonization. The images, without embellishments or watering down, expose the physical and psychological violence inflicted upon a community and its children, allowing for a complete immersion into their reality. The children, now young adults, adopt an attitude of peaceful resistance, a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


Shoe Shine Caddie

Leonard Manzella
United States / 2022 / 1:02:00

After decades of being incarcerated, Adrian is free, 61 years old, and homeless, struggling to gain custody of his three year old daughter and stay alive on the streets.



Jury Declaration:

Leonard Manzella's street film is a heartfelt plea for the dignity of the individual in turning over a new leaf in life without any prejudice and persecution that follows after punishment and redemption. The ongoing personal suffering of the protagonist is fully illustrated with honesty and therefore invokes sympathy without any contrivance.