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MICHEL Film Award MAJA for Totem 

5. October 2023


The new MICHEL Film Award MAJA, endowed with 10,000 euros, goes to the Dutch co-production Totem, directed by Sander Burger. The decision was made by the MICHEL jury, consisting of seven children and teenagers aged between 12 and 16. Additionally, the jury honored the British film Scrapper with a “Honourable Mention of the Hearts.”


The jury announced during today’s award ceremony at the Studio-Kino in Bernstorffstraße that it was a close race with intense discussions. The courageous protagonist Ama impressed them. Left suddenly on her own, she never gave up and exceeded herself, as stated in the jury’s reasoning. “We found the film beautiful in the way it tells us that a passport doesn’t define who you are. We believe it’s essential for people with migration backgrounds and POCs to see themselves represented. It carries many important messages: No matter where you come from or what you believe in, you are important and unique…”


The closing film of the MICHEL Film Festival today, Totem, tells the story of 11-year-old Ama, who calls the Netherlands her home. Until now, she showed little interest in her heritage and her mother’s stories from Senegal. When her family faces deportation, Ama runs away – the police is looking for her, and Ama, in turn, is searching for her father. Moreover, there’s suddenly a huge spiky creature that won’t leave her side. Totem is a production of Voya Films (Netherlands) in co-production with Tarantula (Luxembourg) and Leitwolf Filmproduktion, with support from MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, among others. The NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) is responsible for editorial oversight, with Holger Hermesmeyer at the helm.


Furthermore, the jury awarded a “Honourable Mention of the Hearts” to the British feature film Scrapper (directed and written by Charlotte Regan) about a 12-year-old girl who decides to raise herself after her mother’s death.


After seven successful days featuring a total of nine competition feature films, two episodes of the popular series Die Pfefferkörner, a series for the youngest cinema-goers, and a screening of this year’s award-winning film Der Steinhügel from the Mo&Friese Young Short Film Festival Hamburg, the MICHEL Children and Youth Film Festival concludes today with a festive award ceremony. For the first time, the MICHEL Award MAJA, endowed with 10,000 euros, was presented. The award is sponsored by cinema operator Hans-Peter Jansen, whose Studio-Kino on Bernstorffstraße is the new venue for the MICHEL Festival from this year onwards.


Founded by Albert Wiederspiel, the MICHEL team has been inviting young cinema-goers to embark on a cinematic journey parallel to the “big” festival every autumn since 2003, allowing them to discover the latest productions from distant countries and explore different life worlds. Age-appropriate moderation, films in their original language, and guests including actors and directors have made the festival visit an exciting experience. Since 2021, Steffi Falk has been the director of the MICHEL Festival.

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