Hubert Burda Media

Thank You, Deer

Call it the Oscars of Life. Germany’s annual Bambi Awards recognises cinematic achievements and everyday heroes. By Farah Liyana

Salma Hayek looked resplendent and so did Celine Dion. Also joining them was British boy band One Direction. But this wasn’t the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Instead, they were in the German city of Düsseldorf at the CCD Congress Centre on November 22, walking the red carpet before later going on stage to receive their Bambi Awards.
Conceived in a post-war era where life was tantamount to hardship, the award show set out to draw upon the novelty of cinema. Back then, film was the only means for an alternative reality, its transient nature a gratifying escape. Named after Felix Salten’s famed children’s tale of the same name, the Bambi Awards kick-started in 1948 and the chosen emblem, a deer, is representative of hope. While it initially started by celebrating the silver screen’s biggest stars, it has since evolved to include humanitarian categories.
Today, it is deemed in Europe as Germany’s most important media award, attracting both local and international talents, innovators and fans to the glitzy gala. Organised by Prestige’s parent company and global media conglomerate Hubert Burda Media, the star-studded event is graced by film industry bigwigs, prominent figures in the world of music and fashion, royalty (Queen Rania of Jordan in 2007), sports athletes (Muhammad Ali in 2003) and everyday heroes.
Award recipients for 2012 included Salma Hayek who snagged a golden deer in the international film category. The sultry Mexican is commended for her work in movies and for being the first Latino actress to join the ranks of Hollywood’s A-listers. Legendary songstress Celine Dion collected the entertainment award, her third Bambi to date. The jury describes the Canadian native as “a great entertainer who has touched people with her music”, which she went on to display by performing the sassy tune River Deep — Mountain High.
Affirming the fact that there’s probably no escaping a boyband resurgence, Brit pop sensation One Direction scored the pop international accolade and after which, promptly delivered their hit single Live While We’re Young. German rapper Cro, a newcomer discovered in early 2011, was awarded the German Pop award for his musical dexterity. Other awards honour worthy individuals who have inspired the world and “moved hearts”. Austrian daredevil and world-record skydiver Felix Baumgartner who, last October, jumped at 39km to become the first man to break the sound barrier without mechanical assistance.
Humanity is a place that Bambi constantly revisits, giving recognition to the world’s most compassionate heroes for their efforts. Among the individuals honoured was Rabbi Daniel Alter, a recipient in the category of integration. Alter, after an unfortunate mugging attack, channelled his energies into becoming the symbolic figure of peaceful interaction between Jews and non-Jews in Germany.
The Bambi award for courage was awarded to Tina K, an anti-violence activist who picked up her cause after the murder of her brother. Dr Ruth Pfau, the ‘silent heroes’ recipient, dedicated her life towards helping lepers in Pakistan. Humanitarian excellence may not command a glitzy reception that equals its entertainment counterpart, but at the Bambi Awards, the two are celebrated side by side.