by Elmar Biebl
As keynote speaker at the 11th Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin, Germany, HFPA-President Dr. Aida Takla-O’Reilly emphasized the powerful role films can play in changing social and political ills and injustices.
The Gala took place on February 9 at the ballroom of the newly established Berlin Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Dr. Takla-O'Reilly welcomed some 300 filmmakers, industry sponsors and luminaries, among them Marga Spiegel, a centenarian Holocaust survivor who has worked for reconciliation between Germans and Jews; Fatou Bensouda, the newly appointed Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague; and actress Charlize Theron.
Dr.Takla-O’Reilly presided over an international jury selecting outstanding films and documentaries. Stating that "one of our fiercest battles we faught and are still fighting is slavery" she awarded Steven Spielberg's Lincoln the Most Valuable Film of the Year.
The International Green Film Awards, established by former President Mikhail Gorbachev and Leonardo DiCaprio, went to the feature film Bitter Seeds by Micha X. Peled. Documentary awards were given to The Gatekeepers and Searching for Sugarman.
Funds from a live auction-- which included works by renowned artists Roy Lichtenstein and Damien Hirst --went to Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Project , whose mission is to fight AIDS/HIV in her native country of South Africa.