In 2015, a fire erupted at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, immediately killing 27 people. In the weeks that followed 37 more would die from their injuries due to inadequate medical treatment and hospital infections.
This tragedy, which led to widespread protests, would become an emblem of the incompetence and corruption of Romania’s Social Democrat government, exposing a healthcare system rife with medical malpractice and pharmaceutical corruption.
In the days that followed the fire official statements from the Minister of Health Nicolae Banicioiu insisted that Romanian hospitals were capable of treating the 180 burn victims despite the absence of a single effective burns unit.
Romanian filmmaker Alexander Nanau follows in real time the investigation that would expose the lies of the state. Unfolding like a journalistic thriller, headed by journalist Cătălin Tolontan a team of journalists at sports paper Gazeta Sporturilor uncover the source of the deadly bacterial infections – disinfectants and antiseptics supplied to Romania’s hospitals diluted up to 10 times and containing only 1% of active ingredients. Nanau’s observational style provides a glimpse into the notoriously secretive space of the newsroom, following the investigation on the ground, capturing every break in the story and every moment of hard-won truth.
In Collective’s second act our perspective on the scandal shifts –following the resignation of Health Minister Banicioiu, a former patient activist Vlad Voiculescu is instated pledging transparency and reform. With access to Voiculescu’s private meetings and briefings Nanau takes us behind the scenes of government. Through meetings with victims and whistle-blowers alike Nanau reveals a man struggling against profound legacies of institutionalised corruption.
Urgent, chilling and totally engrossing Collective is an important reminder that dysfunctions of the state are life or death for vulnerable citizens – a message made all the more poignant by a global pandemic coinciding with the film’s release.
Tipped to win big at this year’s Academy Awards watch it now on demand in all the usual places!
Watch the trailer here: