‘Collective’ director Alexander Nanau turns down Romanian distinction, points to culture sector crisis
Director Alexander Nanau turned down Romania’s Cultural Merit presidential medal, pointing to the unprecedented crisis engulfing the country’s cultural sector.
“Unfortunately, given the unprecedented crisis of the entire cultural sector in Romania, I cannot accept this distinction,” Nanau said, thanking president Klaus Iohannis and culture minister Bogdan Gheorghiu for the nomination.
Nanau’s latest film, Collective, is Romania’s proposal for the 2021 Oscars. It received the European Documentary prize at the 2020 European Film Awards. The medal was to be awarded on January 15, the country’s National Culture Day.
In a Facebook post announcing the decision, Nanau points to the lack of state support for the culture sector during the Covid-19 crisis.
“I believe this is the most cynical moment to decorate, symbolically and devoid of meaning, Romania’s culture. After almost a year of efforts and proposals from all cultural sectors to engage the Romanian state in implementing support mechanisms for culture, threatened by bankruptcy during the Covid-19 crisis, the Romanian state’s reaction and specific intervention at all institutional levels were zero,” Nanau wrote.
The filmmaker published the letter he sent to the Presidential Administration, arguing the authorities should come up with solutions to salvage the cultural sector, “the country’s most powerful ambassador for years, and an extremely important sector of the economy until the Covid-19 crisis.”
Nanau explained that it would be hypocritical of him to accept the medal, given the state of the local cinema sector.
“As a filmmaker who, at this point, draws the greatest international attention to Romanian culture and cinema, I believe it would be hypocrisy on my part to accept this decoration, given that the cinema sector and the state structures responsible for it are clinically dead.”
He also points to the “lack of action and indifference” shown by the responsible authorities and gives the example of France and its various aid schemes for culture.
“I am looking forward to any dialogue or public debate from president Klaus Iohannis, as it happened, for instance, in France, where president Emmanuel Macron held open debates to support various aid schemes for culture, which were implemented without delay,” he writes at the end of the letter.
"Stimate domnule Nanau, Conform discuţiei telefonice, cu ocazia Zilei Culturii Nationale, Presedintele Romaniei,...Posted by Alexander Nanau on Monday, January 11, 2021
Born in Romania, Nanau studied directing at the Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB).
His documentary The World According to Ion B, tracking the transformation of Ion Barladeanu from homeless man to art-world favorite, was awarded an International Emmy Award in 2010.
His feature documentary film Toto and His Sisters, focused on three siblings trying to get by while their mother spends time in prison, was a European Academy Award nominee in 2015.
He also served as director of photography for the French/German documentary Nothingwood, directed by Sonia Kronlund. It premiered in Cannes as part of La Quinzaine des Realisateurs in 2017.
Collective, about the journalistic investigation that followed the fire at Colectiv club in Bucharest in October 2015, was voted best foreign-language film by the National Society of Film Critics this past weekend.
(Photo: Zurich Film Festival press picture, zff.com)