Film Review: Collective Dir: Alexander Nanau (DocPlay)

Nominated for two Academy Awards, Collective is available to stream from today on DocPlay.

Corruption, fraud, greed, bribery and negligence…all words that come to mind after viewing this harrowing documentary set in Bucharest, Romania.

The film’s opening scenes take us to Colectiv, a nightclub where, on October 30, 2015, a heavy metal band is throwing horns until, suddenly sparks fly. Terrified, the band bids a hasty retreat, warning fans that this “is not part of the show”.

Indeed. It is an electrical fire that takes the lives of 27 people and lands another 180 in the hospital.

At first, one might think we are in for an expose on how fans were put into danger ala the 2003 fire that tore through a Great White concert in Rhode Island.

But as we quickly learn, Collective is all about the survivors and what happened to them once they were taken to hospital.

Incredibly, 37 more people died in the days, weeks and months after the fire, not from burn injuries, but from bacterial infections developed while in the hospitals of Romania.

Once word is out that the Romanian health care system is the cause of so much misery, the government, run by Social Democrats, resigns.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Newly-appointed Minister Of Health, 32 year old Vlad Voiculescu, a former patients’ rights advocate, is determined to fix the system, but quickly finds that the problems are long standing and systematic. Everyone from politicians to doctors is dipping into the pot and patients are dying.

It is thanks to Vlad that this film was even made. He allowed Nanau’s cameras to record private meetings, phone calls…access to just about everything to uncover the truth. Also looking for answers is journalist Catalin Tolonta of the Sports Gazette newspaper and a handful of brave doctors, nurses and patients who come forward to tell what they know of the deep corruption that runs through the Romanian health system.

As a film, there’s not much action, romance or even drama, just Vlad and his people discovering one outrage after another.

You’ll want to hide your eyes when the worms are revealed.

This is a rare glimpse inside a very corrupt system. Thanks to a few whistle-blowers and men like Vlad, this story has been told, but, even then, it seems it may not be enough to make a difference.

Marty Duda

Click here to view Collective at DocPlay