Jasmila Zbanic - KAIROS Prize Winner 2014
Jasmila Zbanic was born in Sarajevo in 1974, and trained at the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo. In 1995 she went to the United States to work as a puppeteer at the Bread and Puppet Theater. On returning to Sarajevo in 1997, she set up a film production company.
Jasmila Zbanic demonstrates by her example that artistic interventions can be a source of crucial societal impulses. The examination of the traumas produced by the war in the citizens of Bosnia forms a central part of her work. She calls for the crimes to be scrutinised fearlessly, but also encourages reconciliation and a process of healing. With films such as Esma’s Secret: Grbavica, which won the Golden Bear for best film at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, Jasmila Zbanic has demonstrated that she has her own, distinctive artistic signature. At the same time, she regards her work as a strategy for survival because it gives the silent victims a voice and a new perspective. The director explains that she tries to point to ways of breaking down the lethargy of traumatisation, allowing people to build a life for themselves.
Thanks to her masterful use of the aesthetic techniques of cinematography, the surprising images she finds, and not least through her often quirky sense of humour, she succeeds in defining these reconstructive efforts as a spirited cultural achievement, as a contribution to a mental paradigm shift in a deeply insecure country. In doing so, she also intervenes directly in political events. Her film Esma’s Secret: Grbavica triggered a broad debate about the rights of the Bosnian women who had been raped during the war – as a result of which, these women have now been recognised by the law as civilian war victims, and as such are entitled to a pension.
Jasmila Zbanic pursues her goal of a comprehensive sensitisation for repressed topics with great determination and energy. She is, not least of all, a brilliant networker. From the start, she was interested in giving up the social isolation of the artist and instead using cooperative campaigns to create a climate of fresh beginnings and renewal. The video works, documentaries and theatre productions turned out by Deblokada, an artists’ association she helped to set up, also contribute to this. In awarding her this prize, the KAIROS prize committee would like to give Jasmila Zbanic’s important work a European forum and direct people’s attention towards a region whose conflicts tend to be forgotten in the face of the current debates and crises within Europe.
On 23 February 2014, Jasmila Zbanic is to receive the KAIROS Prize at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. The laudatory speech to the prize-winner will be given by Dieter Kosslick, the director of the Berlin International Film Festival.
Since its establishment the foundation has awarded various cultural prizes of different endowment throughout Europe. Reflecting the changing social, political and cultural conditions of contemporary Europe, most of the previous awards were discontinued in favour of one newly conceived and at the same time higher endowed prize.
The KAIROS Prize is honouring European artists and academics from the fields of the fine and the performing arts, music, architecture, design, film, photography, literature and journalism. The award is designed to be given above all to individuals for artistic achievements, but also to producers, festival directors, publishers or gallery owners whose activities take place outside of the public limelight – in short, to creative personalities who give important impulses to art and culture in Europe.
The KAIROS Prize is endowed with the amount of 75.000 € and aims to honour outstanding individuals working with entrepreneurial spirit, persistence and creativity in the field of European culture and intercultural understanding. The prize is named after the Greek god KAIROS – the god for "the right moment" – as it seeks to encourage and promote artists, curators, managers in the field of culture or science at "the right time in their career". It is neither an award for life time achievement nor a singular project, but rather seeks to identify early achievement, special work in progress as well as potential for future sucess.
The KAIROS Prize is awarded annually in Hamburg by the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. An independent committee decides on the awarding.
Committee of the KAIROS Prize
Christoph Stölzl, (chairman) president of the Liszt School of Music Weimar
Christine Eichel, author and journalist
Heike Catherina Mertens, director cultural department of Schering Foundation
Nike Wagner, author and publicist
Armin Conrad, editor-in-chief at 3sat kulturzeit
Rainer M. Schaper, culture department of Swiss radio and television