Initiators and organizers of the della AWARD 2023 are the Zentrum für Kultur und visuelle Kommunikation der Gehörlosen Berlin/Brandenburg e.V. (ZFK e.V.) and the Gunter Trube Stiftung.
The association Zentrum für Kultur und visuelle Kommunikation der Gehörlosen Berlin/Brandenburg e.V. (ZFK e.V.) has been working since 1993 to promote sign language, the culture of Deaf people and their political as well as social interests.
Since 1993, the association has set up and founded numerous projects and institutions such as counseling centers, a state interpreter center, a culture and media center, a social center, an educational center and an integration specialist service.
The Gunter Trube Foundation still has a very young history, as the foundation establishment started in November 2019.
The advisory board has set the course to register the foundation. Its aim is to promote the interests of deaf people in the field of culture and film and to support young talent. With the della Award the foundation realizes its first professional project in both areas.
The cornerstone for the ZFK e.V. was laid by another association:
In 1881, the Berlin Deaf and Mute Theater Club FROHSINN was founded, although there is no official confirmation of this. After the end of World War I, the association was renamed in 1918 and officially registered as the Berliner Taubstummen Bühnenclub.
Co-founder was Wilhelm Mertens, who wrote the successful play “Die verkannten Bekannten”.
The first film
Based on the play, a hearing director and a deaf screenwriter produced the first film dedicated to Deaf people, titled Verkannte Menschen. The film premiered in 1932 at the Berliner Filmtheater Kamera.
Under the german NS-Regime
When the Nazis were in power, the film was banned and the association was dissolved.
Despite the difficult circumstances during the Nazi regime, another deaf stage association was created, the Berliner Gehörlosen Bühnengemeinschaft. Sadly, it was taken over by the Nazi organization Kraft durch Freude. Wilhelm Mertens and other actors were banned from performing. In order not to be publicly considered stupid and mentally inferior by hearing people, many deaf people performed pantomime in the 1930s.
The post-war period
In 1945, after the end of the war, Wilhelm Mertens and a hearing friend re-founded the Berlin Deaf and Mute Stage Club. After the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 Kurt Eisenblätter took over and it became the Pantomime Ensemble of the Deaf (Berliner Laienspielgruppe) in the eastern part of Berlin. Later on it was renamed to the Pantomime Ensemble of the GDR. The requirement to present pantomime exclusively was dictated by the government.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought the change
The Pantomime Ensemble of the GDR disbanded after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Berlin Deaf Stage Club was founded anew in 1991.
In 1993, the club received the name ZFK e.V.. Since then, in addition to theater and stage projects, it has been actively promoting the participation of deaf people in society. Modern media and film have played a major role in this effort.
The first film festival
In 1995, the first film festival “deafmedia” took place in Berlin and was organized by ZFK e.V..
Over 1,000 guests brought the festival to life. In 2013, Sinneswandel gGmbH and jubel3 with Sign Language e.V. jointly organized the first German Sign Language Film Week in Berlin. The della AWARD addresses the Deaf History of film with an international context.