Hivos Cinema Unlimited Award

April 2007 -

Development organization Hivos has established a cinema award: the Hivos Cinema Unlimited Award. Hivos supports initiatives in the area of art and culture in Africa, Asia and Latin America based on their importance for a country's development. The Cinema Unlimited Award is for cinema makers, distributors or organizations that have made a special contribution to cinema and have succeeded in pairing artistic quality with social relevance. Hivos does not want to limit the prize to a genre or a topic, and it can be awarded at a variety of events. Which is why it is unlimited. The name also refers to Hivos' motto: "No limits for people".

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Still from: 'Offside' by award winner Jafar Panahi

The first winner of the Hivos Award is the Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi. He received the award for his entire oeuvre. Well known films made by Panahi include The Circle and Crimson Gold. His newest film, Offside, premiered in the Netherlands on 22 March 2007. Offside is about a couple of girls in Iran who want to go to a football match, which is forbidden for women. Women's limited rights and their struggle for emancipation are major themes in Panahi’s work. He hopes his films will wake people up and get them thinking. Many of Panahi’s films are only distributed in Iran on illegal DVDs because the government has banned them. Offside has also been banned.

Panahi was the honorary guest at the Amnesty International Film Festival in March 2007. Hilvos decided to issue the Award for the first time at this event. Panahi accepted his award on the closing night on 18 March 2007 in de Balie in Amsterdam. He was given a trophy and 3500 euros.

The Amnesty Film Festival is organized by Movies that Matter. Amnesty International established this foundation in 2006. The DOEN foundation and the Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund provide financial support for this initiative. Movies that Matter wants to use cinema to make people aware of situations in which human rights are threatened. In addition to the annual festival, the foundation organizes programs in various cinema centers in the Netherlands. It also plays human rights films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.