Collective wins the 2021 LUX Audience Award

The European Parliament has just unveiled the winner of the 2021 LUX Audience Award during a ceremony held in Strasbourg. Collective by Alexander Nanau has triumphed over its competitors, Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg and Corpus Christi by Jan Komasa, becoming the first-ever recipient of the newly branded pan-European award, presented by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy in partnership with the European Commission and the Europa Cinemas network. With this recognition, Alexander Nanau’s investigative documentary rounds up an outstanding year, after winning several international awards and making history becoming the first Romanian film nominated for the Oscars.

Since 13 December, following the announcement of the three nominated titles during the virtual ceremony of the European Film Awards, European audiences and the Members of the European Parliament had the chance to vote for their favourite films among this year’s selection, which showcases the diversity of European cinema, shedding light on important social and political subjects. After the closing of the voting period, Collective emerged as the title with the highest average rating from the public and the MEPs (with each group weighing 50 per cent).

President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, who presented the award to the winner, said: “This is a significant moment for culture in Europe, as we establish this contact with the public opinion. For the first time, members of the European Parliament have voted alongside the citizens to decide on the winner. It's been a difficult year for so many, during which we have realized how much we need culture and cinema. How important it is for our well-being. We need to be very vigilant to ensure that cinema in Europe can once again play that fundamental role.” About the film itself, Sassoli expressed: “Collective shows how important investigative journalism is for freedom. The tragedy of the nightclub in Bucharest in 2015 shocked the whole of Europe, and the team of journalists who investigated the case showed a commitment to freedom of information.” Chair of the Committee on Culture Sabine Verheyen and Vice-Presidents Klára Dobrev and Othmar Karas presented the prizes to the runners-up.

Director Alexander Nanau (whose previous film Toto and His Sisters was part of the LUX Prize Official Selection in 2015) collected the prize, stating: “I think this is an award for the victims and their families, for whom justice has still not been served in Romania. This also an award for the resilience and the courage of normal citizens that came out, told the truth and changed Romanian society. Europe is watching now. Societies do not evolve if we do not have culture, education and a free press. It is your duty to support our citizens and to regulate the spendings on culture and education, as well as to protect journalists. Only culture can bring us together.” Nanau was accompanied by one of the protagonists of Collective, journalist Catalin Tolontan.

The film follows a group of local journalists exploring corruption in the Romanian healthcare system, following a dramatic event that shook the country in 2015: a fire in the Collective nightclub in Bucharest, where 27 people died. Produced by Romanian company Alexander Nanau Production, in co-production with Luxembourg’s Samsa Film and HBO Europe, the film is sold worldwide by Israeli company Cinephil. Collective was revealed out of competition at the Venice International Film Festival in 2019, and was part of the  TIFF Docs section in Toronto the same year. Since then, the film has garnered numerous accolades at various international film festivals and scooped several awards.

The award ceremony will be followed by a press conference with MEPs and members of the film crews, as well as a Facebook live with the winner. The three 2021 LUX Audience Award finalists, which have been subtitled in the 24 official EU languages, will continue travelling across Europe in the upcoming weeks. In addition, Collective will be adapted for visually and hearing impaired audiences and further promoted in the Member States. All the information about upcoming screenings can be found here.