In 2015, a fire ripped through the Bucharest nightclub Collectiv, claiming 27 lives. It was a national tragedy. But worse was to come. The Minister for Health declined to send the surviving burns victims to intensive care in nearby Austria, insisting they would receive equally good treatment in Romanian hospitals. Another 37 died. That is the starting point for Alexander Nanau’s enthralling documentary, which begins by chronicling the dogged efforts of reporter Cătălin Tolontan to uncover the murky reasons why local medical care proved so lethal, then, as the scandal breaks, widens to show how a new, reformist-minded Minister attempts to root out the corruption endemic within the system. This is riveting as an expose, a study in courage and conviction, but it’s also a film about how difficult it is stand against the tide. And it’s a movie about the stranglehold of McMafia, gangster capitalism and rightwing populism. You won’t see a more powerful documentary this year.
"Every now and then a documentary doesn’t just open your eyes but tears you apart by exposing a moral rift with resonance far beyond the film’s home country. Collective, Alexander Nanau’s explosive observational documentary about unfathomable corruption at the heart of the Romanian medical industry, is such a work. Taken on its own, this chilling exposé should send shockwaves through a system so mired in venality that politicians as well as a large segment of the medical profession thought nothing of letting people die so they could stay in power and ensure their kickbacks. But the corrosive corruption revealed has ramifications far greater than just in Romania, for it’s indicative of a worldwide phenomenon in which people feel so disconnected from others that empathy has been replaced by avarice, and strangers are viewed as abstractions. This is truly a documentary for our times, deserving of widespread exposure." Jay Weissberg, Variety
"Explosive… Chilling… Truly a documentary for our times." Jay Weissberg, Variety
"A gripping, despairing exposé of institutional injustice." Justin Chang, LA Times
"Collective is a suspenseful viewing experience as gripping as Spotlight, Zodiac or any of the best investigative thrillers. A completely gripping exposé of a healthcare system in crisis." Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry
Nominated for 2 Academy Awards: Best International Feature and Best Documentary. Winner: European Film Awards 2020, Best Documentary
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