Documentary on Romanian corruption wins human rights film prize

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Commemoration march in Bucharest, Romania, in October 2018, three years after the Colectiv nightclub fire in the capital, which killed 27 people and injured 180. The documentary follows an investigation into the tragedy.

(Keystone / Robert Ghement)

The documentary “Collective” by film director Alexander Nanau has won the top prize at the 18th edition of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) in Geneva. This year’s festival took place online because of coronavirus outbreak.

The Bucharest-born filmmaker was awarded the Geneva Grand Prix, offered by the city and canton, and a CHF10,000 prize.

His critically acclaimed documentaryexternal link follows a team of sports journalists investigating the 2015 fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, which killed 27 people and injured 180. Fierce protests later broke out when 37 of the people injured subsequently died from bacterial infections. The film uncovers high-level government corruption within the Ministry of Health.

In all, the FIFDH external linkawarded prizes for a total of thirteen documentary and fiction films.

The Gilda Vieira de Mello prize, and CHF5,000, went to “Silence Radio”, by Juliana Fanjul, which also addresses the issue of corruption. The international jury, led by American filmmaker and activist Pamela Yates, also awarded a special mention to “Gaza” by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnel. In fiction, “Maternal” by Maura Delpero won the Grand Prix and CHF10,000.

The World Organisation Against Torture awarded its prize for the best TV documentary report to “Assistance to a person in danger: a crime” by Pietro Boschetti and Frank Preiswerk, which looks at Swiss policy on illegal migration.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the FIFDH organisers to suddenly cancel all public events and screenings and to offer online programming from March 6-15. A total of 27 debates and major interviews were nonetheless broadcast on the festival’s website and other platforms, which generated over 55,000 views on YouTube and Facebook.

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