Human Rights Award 2018 goes to Eldorado

Eldorado directed by Markus Imhoof (Switzerland) has received the WACC-SIGNIS Human Rights Award 2018.

Every year, the Human Rights Award is given to a documentary that throws light on a question of human rights reflecting the values and priorities of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication.

Throughout the world today, there are unprecedented levels of displacement caused by civil conflict and natural disasters. The theme of migrants, refugees and displaced people has become daily fare in much coverage by newspapers and television. At the same time, studies have shown that news stories of migration and asylum-seekers rarely include the genuine voices and experiences of individuals and their families.

Fortunately, film-makers are taking a different view. Eldorado, a brutally honest documentary by Swiss film director and screen-writer Markus Imhoof, reveals the hidden dimensions of what has become a universal tragedy.
“This film underlines recent work by WACC on the need for more balanced media representations of refugees and migrants,” said WACC General Secretary Philip Lee. “Imhof’s film is a ‘must-see’ for all those concerned about one of the most pressing issues of our times.”

Imhoof’s camera holds up a mirror to European society, probing and questioning the viewer’s own response and conscience as well as that of officialdom. Where migrants and refugees face intolerance, discrimination, and xenophobia, Imhoof turns the tables by presenting human beings who are simply trying to rebuild their lives.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper (22 February 2018), film critic Peter Bradshaw noted, “Markus Imhoof’s Eldorado is a deeply felt documentary essay on Europe’s refugee question. He has bold footage shot from an Italian warship picking up desperate people from the sea, and films, too, in a train where refugees are attempting to cross borders illegally. There are also segments shot in the camps and fields where refugees are exploited as labourers and sex workers by the ugly forces of organised crime, for whom the influx of desperate souls in southern Italy has been an economic game-changer.”

Eldorado implicitly asks “Who are my neighbours?” and answers “These people!” As such, it highly deserves the WACC-SIGNIS Human Rights Award 2018.

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