Brussels, February 17, 2020 (SIGNIS). The 2020 Berlinale marks the 70th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival (February 20 - March 01, 2020). Since 1992, INTERFILM and SIGNIS have been represented by the Ecumenical Jury. It consists of six members and awards its main prize to a film entered in the Competition. It also awards two other prizes, one to a film from the Panorama and one to a film in the Forum. The prizes go to directors who have succeeded in portraying actions or human experiences that are in keeping with the Gospels, or in sensitising viewers to spiritual, human or social values.


The members of the 2020 Ecumenical Jury are:


Kodjo Ognandou Ayetan (Togo)

Kodjo Ognandou Ayetan is a journalist and editor for Présence Chrétienne newspaper (Togo) since 2002. He is the author of a great number of articles about cinema published in Présence Chrétienne, Awotele, SIGNIS Media and CineMag, Fuorivista Cinema e Multimedia, Africiné, the website of the African federation of film critics. President of the Association of journalists and film critics of Togo, he is also the Communication officer of the African federation of film critics. Law and Communication graduate, passionate about cinema and poetry, training workshops in film criticism. Member of the African critics award jury (Fespaco 2017, Ismailia 2019), of the Ecumenical jury at Cannes festival 2012, of the SIGNIS jury in several film festivals such as Besançon and Amiens (France), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), and of the press jury at the Atakpamé short film festival (Togo).


Alexander Bothe (Germany)

Cath. Theologian. First, MA for Systematic Theology, Research and Teaching specialized in dialogue with culture / film. Later trainer for workshops on aesthetics and film. Since 2013 working for the German Bishops' Conference, with Focus on reflection on the networking of liturgy and cultural education, especially in film, art, spirituality, mediality. Involved with international Projects with the Vatican. Management, editorial, content and media development (print, film work, apps) of the Ecumenical Way of the Cross of Youth. Catholic Film Commission. Program Advisory Council Catholic Filmwork. For many years trade visitors of Int. Hofer Film-days, Berlinale, DOK Leipzig and the boarding school. In 2018 he was member of the ecumenical jury in Oberhausen.


Rinke Dellebeke (Netherlands)

Dr. Rinke van Hell is a practical theologian and film reviewer for the Dutch daily Nederlands Dagblad. She was trained as a culture and arts Master student and worked in the arthouse industry for almost fifteen years before pursuing a second career as a practical theologian with a focus on film reception. She regularly writes reviews and articles on film in several Dutch newspapers and magazines. Rinke’s main interest is in the way viewers appropriate the meaning of films and in the ways that movies can function as sources of religious identity. This was also the focus of her doctoral dissertation in 2016. She currently works as manager of a Primary Education Teachers Programme at the HZ University of Applied Sciences in the southwest of the Netherlands. In 2017, she was part of the Ecumenical Film Jury at the Locarno Film Festival.


Paul de Silva (Canada) - President

Undergraduate degree in political and social science at York University in Toronto and PhD in the joint program of York University and Ryerson University in Communications and Culture. Research in cultural politics and political economy of screen media in Canada. He is currently researching/writing a book on Diasporic cinema in Canada. He worked in various capacities in the film and television industry for over 30 years including producing and directing documentary and narrative films and some years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and VisionTV, a multi-faith and multicultural network based in Toronto. He also worked as a Human Rights officer with the Ontario government and a communications consultant with the United Nations Environment Programme based in Nairobi, Kenya. He teaches courses in film production an International cinema at Toronto Film School. As a volunteer he works for World Association of Christian Communication and the Diaspora film festival.


Melanie Pollmeier (Switzerland)

BA in Political Science (Sociology and Study of Literature), study of Protestant Theology in Bonn and Berlin. After the Vicariate in Berlin and rehearsal pastor in Bonn, she is a pastor in Switzerland since 10 years, currently in Spiegel near Bern. Member of the board since the founding of INTERFILM Switzerland. Member of the Ecumenical Jury at Max Ophüls Prize Festival in Saarbrücken. She is working in the parish office working with films. As a pastor she is interested in the dialogue between God and the world: God's creativity and imagination are expressed in art and culture. "Watching films makes you see." (Reinhold Zwick). They open up limited view, theology finds in films current interpretations, reformulations and new contextualization.


James Thessin (USA)

A.B. (Sociology), J.D. (Law) is a highly experienced attorney in Washington, DC. He has had a distinguished career in U.S. government service, including a tour as Ambassador to Paraguay. He has now committed his attention to legal defence of immigrants. His long-term interest in cinema was sharpened during his eight years of training in a Catholic seminary and later during his active involvement in his Catholic parish. For the past five years he has served as a core team member and discussion facilitator in a parish ministry called Movie Moments of Grace. This annual discussion series, combined with a summer film retreat, explores the human and spiritual values to be found in theatrical films.


For more information on the festival, see