The Risktakers Part One: Sonia, Doug and the REFOCUS students

Allianz Foundation supports Risktakers. We would like to introduce to you courageous individuals who actively fight for social justice, open societies and a livable planet. They are committed to a better future for the next generations. Here ist part one about Sonia, Doug and their students. Produced by Çiğdem Mater.

July 27, 2023

Sonia and Douglas are standing in front of a clourful painted wall and holding to each other. They smile

Sonia Nandzik Herman and Douglas Herman © Erhan Arik/Allianz Foundation

The Allianz Foundation refers to individuals who actively fight for social justice, open societies or a livable planet as Risktakers. Risktakers are committed to a better future for the next generations.  

Risktakers are not lone warriors. They are deeply embedded in the collaborative structures of social issue movements, including prominent ones such as LGBTQ+ Pride or #MeToo.  Over the years, we had the privilege of supporting several risktakers through a variety of grant projects. 

We would like to introduce you to some of these risktakers. They hail from different countries – even different continents – but are deeply committed to issues that concern us all. This first episode is about Sonia Nandzik Herman, Douglas Herman and their students from ReFOCUS Media Labs. Watch here episode two about Camila Nobrega and here episode three about Kato Csató and the #FreeSZFE Society.

Episode One: Sonia, Doug and their ReFOCUS students

ReFOCUS Media Labs is creating a global network of media labs to equip asylum seekers and recognized refugees with modern media creation skills. The Labs provide a platform for students to showcase original work, share their stories, and pursue professional careers. They can receive training in photography, audio and video production, graphic design, media editing, and computer skills. Currently ReFoucs runs Labs in Lesvos, Athens, and Cracow. ReFocus produces feature-length media content, collaborates with international media on breaking news, and regularly engages in school communities with interactive events and media art installations. The Allianz Foundation supports this project

This video project was planned alongside our colleague and friend Çiğdem Mater. We were deeply shocked by verdict of a Turkish court in which philanthropist Osman Kavala was sentenced to life imprisonment. In addition to Kavala, seven other civil rights defenders were sentenced to 18 years in prison – among them Çiğdem Mater. 

Çiğdem is a multi-award winning film producer and journalist whose work promotes freedom of expression and human rights. 

We are extremely grateful to Çiğdem’s family & friends, who continued the project in her spirit: Murat Utku, Sinem Sakaoglu, Nadir Öperli & Erhan Arık.


The Risktakers Part One: ReFOCUS Media Labs © Liman Film

film credits

directed by MURAT UTKU
produced by ÇİĞDEM MATER
supervising producers SİNEM SAKAOĞLU, NADİR ÖPERLİ
director of photography ERHAN ARIK 
sound design & mix CENKER KÖKTEN
color grading CİWAN ZENGİN
graphic design DİLDE MAHALLİ
subtitles SONER DAŞTAN


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