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24.05.2016

Absolutely Swedish takes top TV prize

by Jane Whyatt in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
A Kurdish comedian has helped Sweden’s SVT to win the Prix CIRCOM 2016 - Europe’s top prize for television journalism – with ‘Absolut Svensk’.

Roman Theatre Plovdiv Plamen Agov • studiolemontree.com Roman Theatre Plovdiv, CC BY-SA 3.0

It is a mini-series that exposes hidden racism – including the presenter’s own prejudice against black people.

Soran Ismail moved to Sweden as a toddler with his parents. He supports the Swedish national football team and thinks of himself as ‘absolutely Swedish’. Yet even his friends call him ‘darkie’ and he faces many examples of everyday discrimination.

In the mini-series of three one-hour documentaries, Ismail explores the roots of these attitudes and confronts his own negative feelings about other ethnic minorities. He even tries to hold a reasonable conversation with a racist who is holding an iron bar as a weapon. It is a playful yet hard-hitting documentary treatment that won praise from the CIRCOM jury:

The judges felt that ‘Absolutely Swedish’ is a very interesting format. The mixture between facts, strong visuals and playful storytelling makes this programme a winner. A distinction well earned also thanks to very good technical quality”,

says the citation.

Fact box: CIRCOM is the European Association of Regional Television

  • It promotes the public service broadcasters in every region.
  • stages the Junior Eurovision Song Contests
  • awards its own annual prizes for excellence in TV journalism
  • provides workshops for its members, e.g. mobile journalism
  • more about CIRCOM ...

Producer Lena Lauren and director Jonas Magnusson collected their prize in a televised musical ceremony at Plovdiv’s Cultural Centre. It includes a trophy and 2,000 euros. The series also took the CIRCOM prize for the best Minorities coverage.

Most of the CIRCOM prizes are sponsored by regional TV companies. However, the European Commission donates a special prize for Citizenship Co-production. Bilal, the Syrian refugee, was this year’s winner. It is produced by French network FTV.

The jury’s deliberations, which took place at Novi Sad in Serbia, were also filmed to allow greater transparency of the judging process.

Next year’s CIRCOM conference is hosted by Portugal and will be held in the Azores.

Fact box: Plovdiv

  • a city in Bulgaria dating back to Roman times
  • the site of the 2019 European Capital of Culture
  • hoping to unite nationalities under its slogan ‘Together’
  • the twin town of Leipzig, Germany


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