The “Bertha and Carl Benz Award”

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The virtual realisation of an award ceremony for an imprisoned women’s rights activist

For the city of Mannheim, the Bertha and Carl Benz Award is awarded every two years to people who are committed to improving mobility – especially with regard to more environmentally friendly, socially responsible or simpler mobility.

One ominous detail of 2020 was that the award winner – women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul – was unable to attend as she was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia at the time of the award ceremony – the injustice of her forced absence being rendered tangible by the event’s organisers. The event itself was thus emotionalised by a special lighting design in individual light islands in an emphatically empty and dark room, recorded accordingly with a Cinematic Multicam system.

The event was hosted by Grimme Award winner Constantin Schreiber, with journalist Dunja Hayali as “laudator”. Speech formats were largely shortened and replaced by dialogues and discussion rounds – including a live broadcast to Brussels. Thanks to the hybrid concept, not only the attendees but also interested parties around the world were able to follow the event via livestream in German, English and Arabic, as well as take part in the discussion in the studio via chat functions.