The biggest concert and opera house in Germany offered a truly majestic backdrop for the 71st Bambi awards – Germany’s most important media prize. Awards were presented in 18 categories, honoring personalities who have achieved something special this year, inspiring and enchanting others with their achievements. In 2019, for the first time ever, the ceremony took place in Baden-Baden, not far from the location of the inaugural awards ceremony in Karlsruhe.
The German TV channel “Das Erste” broadcast the glamorous awards ceremony live from the Festival Hall of Baden-Baden, a city of media and the arts. Millions of viewers followed the event on screen at home. With over 1000 invited guests, and featuring award winners such as Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Naomi Watts and Sarah Connor, the premiere was a festival of emotions from the first act through to the finale.
First up… acting greats
Hollywood in the limelight: The award for “International Actress” went to Naomi Watts. For ten years this likeable British actress fought for success in Hollywood, finally becoming famous in 2005 with “Mulholland Drive” and “King Kong.” “Today she’s indispensable – an international star. When the camera films her, something happens. She shines. She glows. She casts a spell,” rhapsodized award presenter Oliver Masucci. Naomi not only cast a spell with her stylish cream lace and tulle dress, but also with her down-to-earth attitude: “Having a job you love and one that allows you to inspire others is a privilege. I would encourage every young woman to follow her dream and to stick with it.”
The award for “German Actress” was presented to Luise Heyer by her colleague Franz Dinda. They met on her first film shoot, “Westwind.” “On that occasion and others I was a witness to the incredible depth you bring to your roles,” he said, also praising her performance in “Das schönste Paar” and “Der Junge muss an die frische Luft.” And the actress, usually so serene, found her voice shaking as she gave her acceptance speech.
The Bambi in the category “German Actor” was presented by Anna Loos to Bjarne Mädel, familiar as the oddball crime-scene cleaner in the cult comedy series “Tatortreiniger.” The actor, originally from Hamburg, gives further proof of his comic talent in the road movie “25 km/h.” On stage to accept the Bambi, he joked: “Alexander, Uwe, I’m sorry, but not very sorry. And I’m just so happy for myself. In future I’ll continue to accept awards. Modesty is a virtue, but life is better without it.”
Stephanie Stumph presented the golden deer for “German Film” to “Das perfekte Geheimnis” by director and screenwriter Bora Dagtekin. Her speech was full of praise: “It wasn’t just me who enjoyed watching this fantastic ensemble of actors solving interpersonal problems – it was three million viewers in just three weeks. I take my hat off to you.”
The “Special Jury Prize” went to three TV greats: Uschi Glas, Gaby Dohm and Michaela May, strong women and role models who have had a formative impact on a whole nation of television viewers. Their key roles were in “Anna Maria – Eine Frau geht ihren Weg,” “Die Schwarzwaldklinik” and “Polizeiruf 110.” “With these three wonderful artists we’ve seen how our society has become freer, fairer and more open – and with their roles, they’ve made a major contribution to this,” explained presenter Wayne Carpendale.
A triumph of audacity: actor and comedian Chris Tall was delighted to receive a “Comedy” Bambi, presented by Martin Rütter. Rütter praised the refreshing political incorrectness of this comedy giant: “Chris Tall is direct and brutally honest. He excludes no one, and includes everyone: the normies and the weirdos, the mainstream and the marginals – you might say he does inclusive comedy.”
Next up… musical greats!
From Sarah with love: Sarah Connor appeared on stage in a black and silver sequined dress with a rainbow-colored scarf, accompanied by a gospel choir, to perform her song “Vincent” from her new album “Herz Kraft Werke.” An appeal for more love and tolerance, and a hit which had the audience on its feet, clapping and dancing along, right from the first few minutes of the show.
“Can you feel the love?” presenter Rea Garvey asked the audience. Later, awarding his good friend Sarah Connor the Bambi for “German Music,” he expressed the highest praise for her career, which has spanned nearly 20 years. “You’ll always be the best singer of all times. You inspire everyone.” Sarah remained modest: “You might think I was a real pop star, yet I’m just a mom with four children who goes to work,” she said with a smile.
Next up was Rock-Titan Peter Maffay, singing a duet of “Forever Young” with Johannes Oerding – another treat for the audience.
A stunning entrance but a shaking voice: YouTube queen Shirin David has 2.7 million subscribers on YouTube, yet she was still nervous when accepting the “Shooting Star” Bambi. Even though presenter Nazan Eckes outed herself as a real fan: “Shirin David is the whole package: YouTuber, stylist, entertainer, rapper, glamour queen and successful entrepreneur. Her power is infectious, and it gives us courage. Her career is the sort of turbo-charged start that usually only exists in Hollywood.” Shirin’s message is “Always follow your dream!”
Three top artists appeared together live on stage to compete for the People’s Choice Award: Lena with “Thank You,” Nico Santos with “Unforgettable,” and Max Giesinger with “Legends.” And this year’s Miss Bambi, Susanne, presented the prize to… Max Giesinger, who was absolutely thrilled: “Wow. Awesome. I used to busk in Baden-Baden, 200 meters away from here, and occasionally got a 5-euro note. Now I’ve got a Bambi. Thank you everyone, and thank you to my fans. Here’s to a great party, and let’s hear it for Nico und Lena!”
The Bambi in the category “Legend” went to British pop group Simply Red, which has inspired millions of fans worldwide since the eighties. Presenter Johannes Oerding said: “Mick Hucknall has an incredible vocal range. One of the greatest ballad singers in existence.” Accompanied by a light show and on-stage fireworks, the Simply Red medley of “Fairground” and “Thinking of You” was a highlight. The entire audience was on its feet, dancing along – including Thomas Gottschalk and his partner Karina Mroß.
Let’s hear it for… people with visions
The “Charity” Bambi was awarded to Queen Mathilde of Belgium, for her work for the rights of women and children, education, health, and the fight against poverty.
EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger presented the award to the monarch: “She has the expert knowledge and the heart to fight convincingly and emphatically for children’s rights.” When Queen Mathilde came on stage there was a standing ovation. And the monarch declared: “I seize every opportunity to give a voice to children who cannot speak for themselves. Something that’s becoming more and more common is cyberbullying, and the figures are alarmingly high.”
The “Courage” category honored Nobel prizewinner Nadia Murad. The Yazidi woman, who became a victim of IS terror in 2014, arrived in Baden Württemberg in 2015 via the aid program for Yazidi women. Since 2016 she has been the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of the Survivors of Human Trafficking, and has fought to have the crimes of the Islamic State brought before the International Criminal Court. “She raises her voice against violence and terror. Her strength and courage impress us deeply,” said award presenter Winfried Kretschmann, the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg. Visibly moved, Nadia Murad read her acceptance speech from a slip of paper. “We are very grateful for this support, and it’s important that we get it. Because the genocide continues.”
Melati Wijsen, winner of the “Our Earth” Bambi in 2017, presented the award in this category to Willie Smits, a legend in species protection and nature conservation, founder of the “Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation,” and champion of the rainforest, the habitat of the apes, which is threatened by fire. The applause was deafening as Melati Wijsen presented him with the Bambi. “There is still a lot to do, not least because climate change is continuing to destroy the trees,” said Smits.
They hadn’t suspected a thing and were genuinely delighted when Sasha sought them out in the audience and brought them onto the stage, accompanied by loud applause. Andrea Riedmann and Anette Riedmann, the founders of the organization “Kleine Helden e.V.” in Munich, received the “Unsung Heroes” award for the work of their organization, supporting families who are caring for seriously ill children. “There is nothing more beautiful than giving people a bit of happiness, like these two true unsung heroes,” said presenter Sasha, visibly moved.
The Bambi for “Our Future” went to the “Projekt 72 Stunden”. In this initiative by the German Catholic Youth Association, 160,000 children and young people have got involved in charitable projects. 100 of them were present in the theatre, and four of them were given the opportunity to go on stage with Thomas Gottschalk and talk about their projects. Then TV newsreader Linda Zervakis surprised them with a Bambi. “Kudos. The youth of today is amazing,” enthused Thomas Gottschalk.
And there were more surprise Bambis: You wanna bet… Frank Elstner didn’t have the slightest idea that he would receive a Bambi? The TV presenter was thunderstruck. “You’re a trickster,” he said to Kai Pflaume, who led him to the stage amid applause and cheers. Pflaume confessed: “As a child I always admired you on television.” In a second surprise, Bambi ambassador Thomas Gottschalk appeared on stage: “As a person, you’ll always be my role model. You are a great guy!”. “I may be shaking a bit, but as long as the illness leads me up onto a stage where I get Bambis, I don’t give a damn about the illness,” said Elstner.
The Bambi in the “Sport” category went to Niklas Kaul, as the youngest world champion in the history of the decathlon, and to Florian Wellbrock, the first swimmer to become world champion both in the pool and in open water. Presenting the award was former Olympic gold medalist in track cycling, Kristina Vogel: “This kind of victory arms you for the other hardships of life, but what makes you even stronger is the path to victory.” The parents of the sportsmen looked on proudly, and the award winners were clammy-palmed with excitement.
A special surprise was the “Millennium” Bambi. It went to Europe as a vision, and was accepted by ten Erasmus students as representatives. The newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, gave a passionate speech, reminding listeners: “In Western Europe, for 70 years, we’ve grown up in the longest and happiest phase of peace this continent has ever known, and sometimes we forget too easily that living without borders and in peace and freedom isn’t something we can take for granted.” Von der Leyen invited the students to Brussels, promising that the Bambi would be given a “place of honor” in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and would play a special part: as a small golden reminder of a truly big idea: “United in diversity.”
Winners and presenters, BAMBI 2019
- Charity: Queen Mathilde of Belgium (presenter: Günther Oettinger)
- International Actress: Naomi Watts (presenter: Oliver Masucci)
- German Actress: Luise Heyer (presenter: Franz Dinda)
- German Actor: Bjarne Mädel (presenter: Anna Loos)
- German Film: “Das perfekte Geheimnis” (presenter: Stephanie Stumph)
- Special Jury Prize: Uschi Glas, Gaby Dohm, Michaela May (presenter: Wayne Carpendale)
- Comedy: Chris Tall (presenter: Martin Rütter)
- German Music: Sarah Connor (presenter: Rea Garvey)
- People’s Choice Award: Max Giesinger (presenter: Collien Ulmen-Fernandes, advocate: Michael Schulte)
- Legend: Simply Red (presenter: Johannes Oerding)
- Shooting Star: Shirin David (presenter: Nazan Eckes)
- Millennium: Europe: Erasmus students (presenter: Ursula von der Leyen)
- Courage: Nadia Murad (presenter: Winfried Kretschmann)
- Unsung Heroes: Kleine Helden e.V.: Andrea Riedmann (presenter: Sasha)
- Our Earth: Willie Smits (presenter: Melati Wijsen)
- Our Future: Projekt 72 Stunden (presenter: Linda Zervakis)
- Sport: Niklas Kaul, Florian Wellbrock (presenter: Kristina Vogel)
- Life’s Work: Frank Elstner (presenter: Kai Pflaume)