Berlin Festival to Launch Documentary Film Prize

'Fire at Sea' film still - H 2016
Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

Gianfanco Rosi's refugee documentary 'Fire at Sea' won the Golden Bear, Berlin's top honor, at this year's festival.

The 2017 Berlin Film Festival will feature a new award honoring documentary films.

The Glashutte Original Documentary Award, endowed with a $56,000 (€50,000) cash bursary, will go to the best nonfiction film from across all of Berlin's festival sections, including the competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Berlinale Special, Culinary Cinema and Perspektive Deutsches Kino.

A three-member jury will pick the winner, with the cash split between the film's director and producer. The award will be presented during Berlin's official award ceremony at the close of the festival.

“The award is an important signal for the field of documentary film, and at the same time a sign of respect and appreciation for the filmmakers who often have to realize their projects at great personal risk,” Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement.

Documentaries, particularly on politically controversial subjects, have long been a cornerstone of programming in Berlin. Fire at Sea, Gianfanco Rosi's doc exploring Europe's ongoing refugee crisis, won the Golden Bear at this year's festival. Caesar Must Die, a mix of documentary and fiction set in an Italian prison from filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, took Berlin's top honor in 2012.