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Prix Italia - short list

Dear Friends,

Yesterday the jury of the Prix Italia (Rdaiodocumentary) announced their shortlist. Next saturday evening the results will be known.




Radio Documentary Jury


The Radio Documentary jury not only traversed longitude and latitude to come together in Bologna, but a travelled through space and time in entering the worlds represented and explored in the many entries in this category. Altogether, there were 37 programs entered – 14 in current affairs documentary and 23 in cultural documentaries. Personal issues with a global significance and large issues with a personal meaning were well represented in both sections of documentary. An intimate portrait of a family in conflict with itself, or a dramatic controversial individual, for example, were mirrors of a larger spectrum of competing ideologies and psychological states. Can you get under the raw skin of an individual was a question asked, and can you live someone else’s life ? A personal journey to another place in search of meaning was another kind of program represented in various ways - following an object such as a record or a suitcase which were clues to larger stories, or following a dream in search of heritage, or simply drifting. Programs sought to cast light on subjects as diverse as puberty, different cultures living together, life lived at the edge of society and countries, and borderlines between life and death, where we have heard the heart pounding and come to a stop. There were programs which sought to provoke responses to issues such as infanticide, and to contemporary phenomena such as fans being crushed to death in the mass hysteria of rock concerts. Some programs were memory paths, and sound memorials to tragic events in the past such as the bombing of Hiroshima and the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl, events which have resonance in the present and which may follow us into the future.

The standard was high this year. A few entries caused the jury to reflect on their having been entered in the wrong category within Documentaries, but not so strongly as to warrant exclusion. We accepted the decisions of the entering companies.


The jury considered 14 programs entered in the Current Affairs Documentary category, and has selected the following the following shortlists of three programs.

In alphabetical order of the entering stations they are:

My Son, The Nazi – Scenes of a Family in Lower Bavaria entered from ARD (Germany) Euskadi: A Call of Freedom Against Terror from RNE (Spain) and Gibraltar entered from SR Swedish Radio.

These programs have very different approaches to handling topical issues in contemporary society:

My Son, The Nazi – Scenes of a Family in Lower Bavaria exposes a rebellious son searching for identification, and the subject of Neo-Nazism and its ties to the not-so-distant past, by means of an intimate and emotive portrait of a dysfunctional family. This clash of ideologies with its potential for eruption into violent attitudes and activities is not unique to German society. A strongly composed program, vivid and revealing.

Euskadi: A Call of Freedom Against Terror deals with political chaos in the Basque country on the eve of a regional election and is constructed in the fast moving style of highly personalised current affairs reportage, reflective of the chaos inherent in the

situation. Participants in the program have had their ideals challenged by the experience of living in a state of fear and violence. This program is graphic, and has a flavour of immediacy, whilst being strongly constructed.

The program Gibraltar is in the form of an audio novella in which the narrator, a Scandinavian woman, journeys to the shores of southern Europe and Northern Africa where undocumented immigrants are washing ashore - alive and dead.

This journey to encounter the “order” and to find self awareness is emblematic of journey to bridge the gulf of opportunities between ‘north and south’. A program about possibilities.

It was a strong field, and in addiction to these three programs the Jury would like to draw attention to two others:

Hana’s Suitcase CBS/SRC Canada for its sensitive treatment of a story that evolves from the discovery of a suitcase owned by a child who perished in Auschwitz. A Japanese woman is impelled to find the story that belongs to the suitcase and those who can identify it.

We Were There to Have a Blast entered by DR (Denmark’s Radio) for reconstructing in detail the impressions and recollections of those who were there to have a good time at the Pearl Jam concert in Denmark, where nine fans were tragically crushed to death while crowedsurfing.


In making our shortlist for the Cultural Documentaries category we came to a list of seven programs which was then further distilled to three:

Stop Whispering, Start Shouting from Finland, YLE,

Voices From Hiroshima from YLE Finland

A Star Named Absinthe – Chernobyl, Radio France Culture

Stop Whispering, Start Shouting

A powerful portrait of a talented and highly controversial raw-skinned young English playright who committed suicide in 1999 a few month after giving a rare interview to the Finnish author of the program. Whilst highly revealing and confronting, the program deliberately veers away from tabloid sensationalism, and enigma or mystery if Sarah Kane is allowed to remain. The program interweaves the two languages of the production (English and Swedish), and the ‘real’ and ‘acted’ central protagonist in sophisticated and subtle ways. The craft skills and the sensibility of the producer are evident.

Voices From Hiroshima – in memory of

An extremely well made soundfilm in which a collection of documentary texts has been carefully chosen, composed and narrated with great subtlety and haunting resonance.

This collection of memories, which interweaves recollections by perpetrators and victims of the bombing of Hiroshima, was made as a radio memorial and produced for the 55th anniversary of this tragic event, and as an attempt to cast light in the labyrinth of the human mind at work in the modern world. The written script has come alive, with symbolic and intense sound images contributing to visualising the events and the experiences of those who were there. A strong impression was created that we continue to live in the shadow of the atomic bomb.

The Name of the Star is called Absinthe - Chernobyl

A sensitive and strong documentary artfully combining and interweaving testimonies recorded on location around Chernobyl with documentary texts in two languages. Made and broadcast on the occasion of the closure of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in December 2000, the program explores the ways in which the lives of those who have survived Chernobyl have been irrevocably and unexpectedly affected, and a misguided cover-up of information that would have exposed the true risks unleashed by the explosion. In an extremely poignant way we come to understand thaty two eras are co-existing here somewhat tragically - the high tech world of the reactor and the pre-technological agrarian peasant world. And the consequence is that nature has been spoilt. The programme informs us that Chernobyl " is for all eternity " and it is " a bomb thrown into the future"

Closely assembled behind these three documentaries were these programs from VRT Belgium and RVU Netherlands, a coproduction The Two Nations Cup, which explored creatively and confidentially an attempt to step into another person's existence via an exchange of homes and identities. From Denmark Radio DR, Leaps and Duines, an Audio window allowing us into the unmediated world of children and adolescence at summer camp.

From NRK Norwegian Broadcasting Corp., Stone through the Window, an intriguing audio drift through time and space in search of meaning in middle life and Polish Radio's How quickly your heart beats to me, a graphic encounter with birth and the tragedy of infanticide.

The impression we are left with after listening to the thirty-seven entries in documentaries is that is a flourishing genre which will continue to contribute to the future of Radio.

Robyn Ravlich

Presaident of the Radio Documentary Jury

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