Romanian director snubs award to protest crisis facing film industry

Bucharest (AFP) –


Romanian director Alexander Nanau, who won global praise for a documentary about a 2015 fire disaster, on Tuesday spurned a national award to protest the crisis facing the film industry in his country.

Romania had promised aid for cinemas and the film industry like the help extended to the hospitality sector during the coronavirus pandemic but has yet to fulfil that pledge.

"It would be hypocritical on my part to accept this award while the film industry is in a state of clinical death", Nanau wrote in a letter to President Klaus Iohannis.

The 41-year-old was to receive the Cultural Merit medal on January 15, Romania's Day of Culture.

Nanau's documentary, "Collective" recounts the corruption and incompetence in Romania's healthcare system in the aftermath of a fire in a Bucharest nightclub killed 64 people in 2015.

The director urged Romanian authorities to "implement concrete solutions to save this sector" warning that "most production houses, independent theatres, cinemas and distribution companies will already be closed when the health crisis comes to an end".

Romania's culture ministry on Tuesday said Nanau's assertions were "ill-disposed and baseless", adding that his documentary received state subsidies amounting to around 300,000 euros ($ 364,000).

"Collective" is Romania's entry for this year's Oscars and is considered a strong candidate in the Documentary Feature category.

It has already won the European Film Award prize for best documentary, while the US National Society of Film Critics awarded it the best foreign language film prize.

Former US President Barack Obama included "Collective" on his list of favourite films from 2020.