“When scientists are lost for words, films give the answers!”

The project be a better being brings together filmmakers and academics in search of a new, adequate language that helps us reflect upon questions challenging contemporary society.

The medium of ‘film’, we believe, gives voice to those who are at the heart of things, captures their emotions, beliefs, worries, and hopes, as well as transmits the latter successfully to larger audiences. In discussions with filmmakers, academics may have the chance to overcome their disciplinary and methodological boundaries and to engage in novel ways with ambivalence, humour, and irony. The confrontation of science and film, we are convinced, can be tremendously beneficial to both sides.

The Junge Akademie, in cooperation with interfilm Berlin, the Deutsche Kinemathek, the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, and the filmArche Berlin, invites filmmakers and academics to the Forum and Short Film Competition be a better being.

The call for entries was launched on the 27th of  January 2016. –

be a better being awards a screening fee of 300,- EUR to all films selected for screening during the Forum scheduled for November 2016. In addition, an audience prize of 1000,- EUR will be awarded.

The Junge Akademie

The Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 as the first academy in the world specifically dedicated to promoting the next generation of outstanding scholars. Its members stem from all academic disciplines as well as from the arts. Through their projects, members explore the potential and boundaries of interdisciplinary work, seek to create a dialogue between scholarship and society, and bring fresh ideas to the discourse of academic policy.

The Junge Akademie is co-owned by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften – BBAW) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina), with its head office located in Berlin.


Project Team

Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka / Head of be a better being

Magdalena Nowicka

Magdalena Nowicka

My interests are in social theory which I have always tried to apply in empirical studies. I currently employ the conceptual toolset of Pierre Bourdieu to study the processes involved in cultural encounters in migration. Previously, I worked with Bourdieu’s theory to address social change in the course of the integration of Poland into the European Union. In my PhD thesis I confronted the theory of reflexive modernization with empirical evidence from the study on mobile professionals, thereby making use of the theories of space. Through empirical investigation I hope to contribute to the development of theoretical concepts such as globalization, modernization, cosmopolitanism or conviviality.

The topic be a better being appeals to me out of an irritation which I want to turn into a productive irritation rather than just an annoying one. As a social scientist, I see people responding to the call for improvement, and how industries pick up this trend to increase their power and profit; as a human being, I am irritated that I cannot escape it either and that I need to position myself vis-à-vis this call. Be a better being is a chance to talk about these kinds of irritations, traps and escape routes.



Dr. phil. Evelyn Runge / Head of be a better being


Evelyn Runge

Images, both still and moving; visual storytelling and technical advancements; the stories behind the obvious, and the people behind the stories – these ingredients feed my interests. My PhD thesis – called “Glamour des Elends” (engl./transl. “The Glamour of Misery”; Boehlau, Cologne 2012) – dealt with compassion, aesthetization, and dignity in documentary photography and conceptual art photography. Trained as a journalist at the German School of Journalism in Munich, I published reportages, portraits, and interviews for instance in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and Cicero – during and after my studies of political science, journalism, sociology, and contemporary German literature.

My fields of expertise include photography in theory, history, and practice; media sociology; image databases and archives; image production and distribution; (photo-) journalism; digitalization and new media; (digital) storytelling; politics and media. Currently, I am working on my research project “Image Capture. The Production Conditions of Photojournalists in the Digital Age”, funded by the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Stiftungsfonds BMBF), at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.



Dr. Philipp Kanske / Head of be a better being


Dr. Philipp Kanske

Emotions have always fascinated me – how we experience them, how we manage to regulate our emotions, and how we share and understand the emotions of others. To study these questions I use neuroimaging techniques, which allow us to gain some understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying human emotions. As a psychotherapist, I am also interested in alterations of emotional processing that occur in mental disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder. Clinical studies have clearly shown the need for exploration of the plasticity of these mechanisms and I am currently involved in a large-scale longitudinal intervention study that differentiates the effects of more affective as well as more cognitive training modules.

Be a better being raises a lot of questions, about what a better being is, how to achieve being better, whether we are not good enough already, and whether an individual can change without changing the society he or she lives in. Working with people who want to change, people who think they can improve through psychotherapy, makes these questions very concrete for me. The film competition will allow us to discuss these questions from different angles and will possibly open up more directions to explore.



Bobby Henzler / Co Ordination, Supervisor Film Section

Bobby Henzler

Bobby Henzler

I am a scriptwriter and also have an academic background. For be a better being I am responsible for the co-ordination, the film section and the jury, as well as being the editor of the blog Perspectives. Readers of Perspectives have, in principle, the possibility to respond to the published texts with a contribution of their own, in accordance with the contributors’ guidelines of text collection. All contributions are subject to review and approval by the editor in consultation with the Junge Akademie. If you wish to contribute to Perspectives, please contact me via perspectives@betterbeing.info.

For me the most amazing aspect of be a better being is its potential to broaden our horizons. Bringing together film makers and academics on an equal footing courageously transcends boundaries. I appreciate the immense effort of the academics involved in terms of their tolerance, concentration and focus on the issue and not on the discipline which is required to make this kind of exchange possible. In this spirit: Let’s be a better being!

For questions about the project, please contact me via info@betterbeing.info




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