13-01-2021

Director of collective Alexander Nanau Refuses Romanian National Honour

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BUCHAREST: Internationally acclaimed documentary director Alexander Nanau has turned down the “Cultural Merit” medal from Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on the occasion of Romania’s Day of National Culture celebrated on 15 January 2021. The Emmy-award winning director is protesting the lack of government support for the film industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander Nanau, credit: Alex Galmeanu“As a filmmaker who at this moment is attracting the biggest international attention to the Romanian culture and cinema, I consider it would be hypocrisy to accept this decoration since the cinema and its institutional structures are brain dead. From March 2020 till now the authorities not only have refused to address this topic, but moreover have aggravated it by neglect and lack of initiative,” Nanau said in a letter posted on Facebook on 12 January 2021 and widely distributed in the media and on social platforms.

Romania was heavily affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, which shut down film production and cinemas for most of the year. The closing of cinemas and the decrease of TV advertisement resulted in a significant decrease of the amount of money for the national Film Fund and, as a consequence, no production grants were allotted for 2020.

Although officially re-launched in 2020, when it was taken over by the Ministry of Economy, the cash rebate scheme did not function, and at the end of 2020 most of the projects already shot since the scheme opened in 2018, were still waiting to recuperate the rebate.

Despite the efforts of film professionals, who petitioned and met representatives of the Ministry of Culture and of the Government, the only decision was to compensate with 75% of the national gross salary the persons who support themselves exclusively from copyright, as well as the authorised persons, liberal professions, individual and family businesses and persons remunerated through service contracts.

In November 2020 the Ministry of Culture announced that it would distribute 100 m EUR for the culture sector, including cinema, but the invitation was directed only at companies, not independent or freelance artists. 

Alexander Nanau's documentary collective / colective (produced by Alexander Nanau Production in coproduction with Samsa Film, HBO Europe), which was named the European Documentary 2020 by the members of the European Film Academy, is currently making the rounds of the American awards season. It has recently been voted best foreign language film by the National Society of Film Critics.

Nanau, who emigrated to Germany in 1990 but returned to live in Bucharest, is also a recipient of the Emmy Award for The World According to Ion B. / Lumea văzută de Ion B., produced by Alexander Nanau Productions and HBO Romania.