Healthy Workplaces Film Award goes to Bird Island at DOK Leipzig international film festival
This year’s winner is Bird Island by Sergio da Costa and Maya Kosa of Switzerland. Since 2009, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has presented the Healthy Workplaces Film Award annually at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Film (DOK Leipzig) to honour innovative films on work-related topics.
The winning film features a young man, Antonin, suffering from fatigue as result of a long-term illness, and follows him as he takes up work in a bird sanctuary. The film combines Antonin’s diary-like reporting with documentary-style footage of his interactions with colleagues and the recovering birds. The result is a warm-hearted tale of rehabilitation through patience and care, told in a minimalist yet powerful way.
The jury were impressed by the film’s ‘intelligent, empathetic and even humorous approach to human fragility’, which creates a ‘captivating analogy between the recovery of the injured birds and the rehabilitation of the main protagonist’.
The Healthy Workplaces Film Award recognises talented directors who shed light on the risks and challenges that people face at work today. The aim is to encourage much-needed discussions on occupational safety and health (OSH). The winning documentary or animated film is chosen for its creative depiction of important OSH issues, including:
- workers’ physical and mental well-being;
- the effects of political and economic change on the work environment;
- workers’ rights;
- groups facing particular challenges, such as migrant or ageing workers.
EU-OSHA proudly supports the award, which raises awareness of OSH risks and seeks to promote a culture of prevention across Europe. Each year, the director of the winning film receives a €5,000 prize. The film is subtitled in multiple European languages and made available through an electronic platform to EU-OSHA’s network of national focal points, which organise film screenings.
This year’s nominated films cover a number of topical and important issues. For example, the Italian film Never Whistle Alone looks at whistleblowing in the modern workplace; My English Cousin shines a light on an Algerian migrant’s experiences of work in the United Kingdom; Taste of Hope follows workers as they form a cooperative and take over the French tea factory where they work; and the tense Nothing to Be Afraid Of documents the work of five women carrying out the dangerous work of removing mines in Azerbaijan.
An important platform for documentaries and animated films, DOK Leipzig attracts more than 47,000 visitors each year. Presenting over 300 films from more than 50 countries and organising over 100 world and international premieres, the festival encourages debate on social and political issues.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) contributes to making Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work. The Agency researches, develops, and distributes reliable, balanced, and impartial safety and health information and organises pan-European awareness raising campaigns. Set up by the European Union in 1994 and based in Bilbao, Spain, the Agency brings together representatives from the European Commission, Member State governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, as well as leading experts in each of the EU Member States and beyond.