Romanian film director Alexander Nanau, addressing today the 2021 LUX Audience Award ceremony in Strasbourg after winning the prize for his documentary Collective that depicts the aftermath of the October 2015 Colectiv nightclub fire that ultimately killed 64 people, said that "the award is, most of all, for the victims and the families for whom justice has still not been served in Romania five years later. There was no compensation, nobody has yet been found guilty. It's not happening in Belarus, it's happening in Romania."
"This is also an award for the resilience and the courage of normal citizens that came out, told the truth and changed Romania's society in 2016. Because they had the courage to go to the press and tell the truth, and because we had independent journalists who stood up for their values and informed the public, we learned about the real state of the Romanian healthcare system that pretends to be functioning when instead it was not able to treat these burnt patients, but lied it can do so. We need citizens that are courageous and we need journalists who are let to do their work. Even in democracies like Romania we again have the feeling that rightfully elected leaders and authorities do not like to hear the truth about what they are doing."
Nanau also remarked that Romania was basically rescued by the European Union's mechanisms of protecting the rule of law, but noted that societies do not evolve in absence of culture, education and a free press.
"It's not an accident that, in many countries, culture and education [are] not only underfunded but systematically prevented from flavouring. Only culture can bring us together," the film director said.
Sisse Graum Jorgensen, the Danish film producer behind Another Round - a Lux Audience Award finalist alongside Corpus Christi and Collective - said that making a film in Europe is very difficult today but that fortunately most countries have strong support systems and international co-productions to rely on.
This is the only reason why we can make films like those we produced - Another Round, Corpus Christi and, of course, Collective. Because without these systems, the stories would be subject to commercialism, they would depend on having a large audience instead of having the right audience. It is important to have the right audience and it is important to find the audience for the movie and not the movie for the audience. Because today's winner movie must be seen by a lot of people, said Sisse Graum Jorgensen.
Collective follows the efforts of investigative journalists to expose the painful truths about the country's corruption, maladministration and public fraud.
The LUX Audience Award is a joint initiative by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy (EFA) in partnership with the European Commission and Europa Cinemas. For the first time, this year the winner was chosen by combining the votes from the public and MEPs.