(JTA) — The founder of Germany’s first Jewish film festival has been awarded the highest honor in the state of Brandenburg.
Nicola Galliner, whose 24th annual Jewish Film Festival Berlin-Brandenburg begins later this month, was one of 15 individuals presented with a Distinguished Service award in ceremonies Wednesday in Potsdam at the state chancellery.
Galliner’s festival screens new films and invites Jewish filmmakers from around the world to Berlin to speak to audiences about their work. Each year it draws large audiences, both Jews and non-Jews, and teases them with provocative publicity campaigns. This year’s festival slogan is “No Fake Jews!”
In announcing the award, Dietmar Woidke, governor of the state in former East Germany, praised Galliner for initiating the festival, calling it “the most important event of its kind in the German-speaking regions.”
“It’s an impressive success story and a major cultural bonus for people in the capital region who want to find out more about Jewish life in Israel and around the world, beyond news reports and cliches,” Woidke said at the ceremony, according to the Juedische Allgemeine newspaper.
Galliner was born in 1950 in London to parents who were forced to flee Nazi Germany. After moving to Berlin in 1969, Galliner became active in rebuilding the cultural life of Jews there. In 1988 she became director of the Jewish adult education program of Berlin’s Jewish community — a position she held for 20 years. She published a guide to Jewish Berlin in 1987, and has initiated exhibitions on Berlin Jewish history in the Jewish section of the Berlin Museum.
At the ceremony, Woidke called Galliner “a tireless ambassador of Jewish life in Berlin and Brandenburg. She has made a major contribution to making Jewish culture in the region more visible and tangible.”