The biggest concert and opera house in Germany offered a truly majestic backdrop for the 71st Bambi awards – Germany’s most important media prize.
Bambi is synonymous with many things: a frenzy of flashing cameras, an array of famous faces, but most of all longevity. Held on 16 November at the Theater am Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, this year’s ceremony was not just about stars and unsung heroes, but also about honouring the award itself as it celebrated its 70th birthday.
Since 1948, Germany’s most important media award has been presented over 1,000 times to people who fight for a better world, people who engage us and touch our hearts. With yet more stars walking the red carpet to the sound of screaming fans, the 70th ceremony was a wonderfully glamorous way to celebrate life itself with guests who reflected its mix of the traditional and modern. Influencers and social media stars such as Lisa and Lena, Xenia Overdose, Dagi Bee, the Lochis and Nilam Farooq. Actors including Paula Beer and Sebastian Koch, winners of the German acting awards. Musicians like Dua Lipa and Mark Forster, who received the Bambi music awards. Top German models such as Toni Garrn, Lena Gercke and Franziska Knuppe. Film icons such as Liselotte Pulver, who received the “Lifetime achievement” Bambi, or her film diva colleague Sophia Loren, who joined Thomas Gottschalk to look back over the many years of Bambi. And Hollywood stars such as Liv Tyler and Penélope Cruz, who took home the “International actress” award. All of them part of contemporary history – people who change the world.
“A film award born in the previous century has become a powerful cross-media event. Just as the world around us evolves at an unbelievable pace, we must continue to develop the Bambi brand.”
Philipp Welte, Burda Board Member
Music stars & newcomers
Highlights included an appearance from Take That, who opened the show with a medley to great applause, the nominees for the “New German music stars” award – Mike Singer, Nico Santos, Lea and eventual winner Michael Schulte – and Grammy winner Alessia Cara performing her song “Not Today”. German rocker Udo Lindenberg, a two-time Bambi winner, was joined on stage by the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and the “Kids on Stage” children’s choir to sing “Wir ziehen in den Frieden” (We are moving to peace).
“Wow, this is very heavy”, said Dua Lipa as Felix Jaehn handed her the Bambi for “International music”. The 23-year-old British artist is the most-streamed female singer on Spotify worldwide, and has enjoyed a year packed with Number 1 singles and sold-out shows. Her first album overtook superstars such as Rihanna and Beyoncé. Dua Lipa performed a medley of her hits “Be the One”, “New Rules” and “IDGAF” from her self-titled album as many of the celebrities in the audience took out their phones to film her.
Pop singer Mark Forster accepted the “German music” Bambi from Lena Gercke and Miss Bambi Johanna. In 2016, Forster had more chart success than any other German-language artist.
Actors and comedians
The “International actress” Bambi was presented to Penélope Cruz, one of the world’s most successful European actresses. The Oscar winner – most recently seen in “Loving Pablo” and the psychological thriller “Everybody Knows” (both starring her husband Javier Bardem) – expressed her thanks for this “huge honour”. “My love for film began when I was eight years old. Even after almost 30 years, I still cannot believe it’s my job.” She also thanked Sophia Loren, whom she befriended on the set of “Nine”: “Sophia, I love you and you are very important to me.”
Presenter Heino Ferch expressed his regret that only one of the “fantastic nominees” could go home with the Bambi for “Best German actress”. The honour went to Paula Beer for the ZDF TV series “Bad Banks”, in which she plays a junior banker who takes on the corrupt financial world.
“Since I was a child, I have regarded Bambi as the greatest prize in Germany.”
Paula Beer, Bambi winner
The Bambi for “Best German actor”, presented by Alicia Rittberg, went to Sebastian Koch for his chilling portrayal of a doctor in the epic film “Never Look Away”. “I previously won a Bambi for ‘The Lives of Others’. Now I stand here again, thanking the same director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.”
Luise Befort announced “Babylon Berlin” (ARD and Sky) as the “Series of the year”. As the Bambi jury explained, this series – directed by Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Hendrik Handloegten – is an opulent, cinematic and seriously addictive masterpiece that paints a fascinating picture of Berlin at the end of the Golden Twenties. Its wonderful leading lady, Liv Lisa Fries, gave special thanks for the great number of women involved in the production.
Presenting the “Comedy” award, Ruth Moschner described Luke Mockridge as a “comedy rock star” whose tours have sold over 100,000 tickets in 24 hours – a sensational achievement. “Not only are you funny, you look very good too. You’re the greatest name in comedy, and that’s no joke!” Liselotte Pulver was thrilled to receive the “Lifetime achievement” Bambi, accompanied by a long standing ovation. Presenter Paola Felix praised her infectious laugh, the trademark that made her famous. She also commended the levity and optimism that “Lilo” has brought to films such as “I Often Think of Piroschka”, “Kohlhiesel’s Daughters”, Billy Wilder’s award-winning Cold War satire “One, Two, Three” (1961) and her heartfelt appearances on the German version of “Sesame Street” (1978–1985). “It is wonderful to be honoured at such an advanced age”, said Ms Pulver, visibly moved.
She was not the only acting great to touch the audience’s hearts: ten-time Bambi winner and acting legend Sophia Loren walked onto the stage arm in arm with presenter Thomas Gottschalk. “There are some dates you just don’t turn down, even if your house is on fire”, joked Gottschalk, who had travelled from California despite the disastrous forest fires. Thomas Gottschalk was then surprised with his own Bambi award, presented by Liv Tyler, to replace the five statues destroyed in the fire.
Sports heroes, environmental heroes and unsung heroes
Jessy Welmer presented the “Special jury prize” to Patrick Lange, who this year won the Ironman Hawaii – the world’s toughest sporting competition – for the second time in a row, setting a new record. Upon crossing the finish line, Patrick proposed to his girlfriend Julia. In his acceptance speech, he commented that: “We Ironmen are made of more than just iron, we have feelings too.”
Paul Breitner presented the Bambi for “Sport” to Peruvian footballer Claudio Pizarro, Werder Bremen’s record-setting striker who has scored more goals than any other foreign player in the German Bundesliga. He is courteous, a great role model and, as Breitner said, “the most popular player in the Bundesliga in recent decades”. Known for his constant high spirits, Pizarro admitted that: “I sometimes sulk when I lose. But my family is always there to support me. Thank you. To my fantastic team as well.”
The “Our earth” award went to Johan Ernst Nilson and Sebastian Copeland, presented by Kai Pflaume and 16-year-old online influencers Lisa and Lena, who commented that they hope to have children later in life and want to leave them with a habitable world. Climate change affects us all: “We must act today. This award is for every person who takes a step forward for a better world”, urged Johan Ernst Nilson. The Swedish explorer has embarked on more than 52 expeditions through 171 countries to investigate environmental destruction and climate change in the glaciers of the North Pole and the Sahara desert.
French photographer and director Sebastian Copeland documents this problem in his photobooks and exhibitions. His expeditions have taken him to the North and South Poles, often accompanied by his cousin Orlando Bloom. He took the opportunity to remind the audience that: “We have destroyed over half of the trees on this planet, we have fundamentally changed the chemistry of the oceans, choking the ability to make life and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.” He explained that, as the fires in California have shown, climate change does not care about passports or economic status. Drought will turn many people into climate refugees. “Nature is screaming for help, but we are not listening. We continue to develop carbon burning vehicles.”
Nico Rosberg, former Formula 1 world champion and ambassador of the Tribute to Bambi Foundation, presented the “Unsung heroes” award to Intensiv Leben e. V., an association based in Kassel. “I really admire the devotion, strength and energy these families display every day”, he said. The association helps parents with children who require intensive medical care around the clock. Christine Wagner-Behrendt and Markus Behrendt set up Intensiv Leben after suffering a personal blow when their son Jascha, then aged five, was left paralysed from the head down following a bicycle accident and required continuous respiration.
“The award is a show of respect and recognition. It is this commitment that makes life worth loving and worth living.”
Christine Wagner-Behrendt, Bambi winner
Winners and presenters, Bambi 2018
Royalty-free footage for editorial purposes is available on Flickr.