Berlin.   Films from France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Denmark were the prize winners at the SIGNIS/WACC 20th European Television Festival of Religious Programmes held in Berlin from 27th to 30th  September 2023. The festival showcased 26 contributions from 12 European countries at Berlin's famous Cinema Babylon.

The first prize was awarded to the documentary The Attraction of the Invisible, directed by Jean-Yves Fischbach and produced by CFRT for France Télévisions, which “opened our minds to what is beyond the cosmos”, as the jury pointed out.

The winner of the Hans W.Florin Prize in Celebration of Cultural Diversity, given by WACC Europe ( was the German production What does Germany Believe? - What we Laugh At about religious humour, was produced by SWR/ARD by Claus Hanischdörfer and Bernd Seidl. In the same category, a Commendation was awarded to an episode of Sign of Times - Will Women Save the World?, produced by Wilberry Jacobs for Dutch channel EO (Evangelische Omroep) in The Netherlands.

The Special  Prize for ‘outstanding story telling’ went to The Third and Fourth Generation, a film directed by the Swiss filmmaker Lukas Zünd.  The Audience Award went to Pastor in Search of Paradise, produced by Sofie Tønsberg and Ina Lindgreen for DR,  Danish Television.

The four-day festival took a look at the status of religious programmes on European television and ventured into future expectations of religious, spiritual and existential formats. In an opening address, Guido Baumhauer, Deputy Director-General of Deutsche Welle TV, commented, “We see a lot of anger, anxiety, alienation, brutalization even, insecurity, ignorance, self-centeredness and loneliness in the present societies“.

At the same time, people are looking for security and stability, something to hold on to, to believe in. “This should be the heyday of content with values – of religious content“, he stated.  He concluded with a challenge: “My guess is it takes a new concept for religious content in media –which should embrace spirituality in a broader context and above all offer an open dialogue. It’s time to reinvent ourselves. That’s what I believe in.”

At a reception at the Bertelsmann Foundation, Yasemin El-Menouar, project manager of the Bertelsmann Religion Monitor, introduced new findings in the religious landscape of Europe. She emphasised that the secularisation trend is continuing despite the current social crises. The survey suggests she said, that the loss of commitment of religious communities will be permanent. Nevertheless, religion can help in “overcoming contingency", especially in crises. Religious institutions are both a "private resource", and an important pillar of civil society at the societal level. With their extensive structures, they enable encounters and social engagement, as is evident, for example, in their commitment to and assistance for refugees.