DOK Leipzig Documentary Film Prize for Jakob Schmidt

Jakob Schmidt receives the Goethe-Institut's 2016 Documentary Film Prize.
Jakob Schmidt receives the Goethe-Institut's 2016 Documentary Film Prize. | Photo: Maren Willkomm

The young director Jakob Schmidt from Würzburg was honoured by the Goethe-Institut with its Documentary Film Prize for his documentary “To Be a Teacher”. The film accompanies three student teachers on their career pathways.

The litmus test of teacher training

The young filmmaker Jakob Schmidt has been awarded the 2016 Documentary Film Prize of the Goethe-Institut. The student of the Film University Babelsberg was awarded for his final film "To Be a Teacher".

The jury justified their selection with the words, “The film sensitively accompanies the development of three trainees on the way to the teacher's profession. The ideals of the protagonists are put to a tough test in the tension between modern educational concepts and everyday school life. Watched closely by the film and without explanatory commentaries, the film shows how hard it is to implement blueprints in reality.”

Student teachers are just that – both students and teachers – who are required to prove their skills while marking pupils' work and being marked themselves in exams. The motivation to start teacher training can be very different: some feel called to do so and approach the task with idealism, while some choose the course for lack of good alternatives and others may be lured by the prospect of a secure future as a civil servant.

The proud winner Jakob Schmidt. The proud winner Jakob Schmidt. | Photo: Maren Willkomm Last year's winner Lutz Dammeck on the jury

The selection and awarding of the Documentary Film Prize takes place every year as part of the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, one of the world's most prestigious International documentary film festivals. This year, the jury was chaired by Lutz Dammeck, who was awarded the prize last year by the Goethe-Institut for his documentary "Overgames". The film experts Carola Ferber (Goethe-Institut Munich), Sofia Michailidou (Goethe-Institut Athens), Aderinsola Ajao (Goethe-Institut Lagos) and Fügen Uğur (Goethe-Institut Istanbul) were appointed to the jury from the ranks of the Goethe-Institut.

Worldwide promotion of documentary films

Since 2003, the Goethe-Institut awards the Documentary Film Prize to films that have reference to Germany as well as an intercultural or global perspective and thereby contribute to social policy discourse around the world. The prize grants the filmmaker €2,000. Following the annual conferment of the Documentary Film Prize at the Schauspiel Leipzig, the Goethe-Institut purchases the international license for the film and makes it available to all 159 institutes in 98 countries. In order to promote the genre of documentary films and cultural dialogue, "To Be a Teacher" will now be subtitled in up to ten languages and made available to a worldwide audience.

The Goethe-Institut's Documentary Film Prize is awarded in cooperation with the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. The 59th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film was held this year between 31 October and 6 November, showing 309 films from 49 countries.