Collective Review (Doco)

by Nick L’Barrow

In 2015, a fire at the Colectiv club in Bucharest, Romania, tragically took the lives of 27 people and leaving 180 more injured. In the weeks following the devastating event, 37 more burn victims died in hospital from wounds that were initially considered non-life-threatening. A doctor working inside the hospital leaks information to a group of journalists at the Sports Gazette, who’s investigation leads to startling revelations of vast corruption and fraud in the health care system.

Collective has been nominated in the 2021 Academy awards for both Best International Feature Film and for Best Documentary. And rightfully so, because this documentary is one of the most engaging and harrowing film experiences in the last 10 years.

Featuring unprecedented access and footage from the filmmakers and journalists involves, Collective unashamedly and bravely tells a story of deception that no doubt would cause incredibly political ramifications, but also conducts investigations that put the subjects of the films livelihoods in danger.

The documentary’s main protagonist is Catalin Tolontan, the editor in chief of the Sports Gazette. We follow him as he consistently works around the clock to find the truth, and is unafraid to question the alleged corruption of the Romanian government at press conferences and during interviews. Along with Mireal Neag and Razvan Lutac, the trio of journalists soon discover the fraudulent claims of a large pharmaceutical company who are supplying disinfectants to the hospitals – leading to awful and startling revelations of the lack of cleanliness in hospitals which hold the highest rate of deadly bacteria in the European Union.

Collective takes its first turn and off-shoots once a new health minister is elected. Vlad Voiculescu is an activist who wants to fight the companies responsible for the fraud for the people of Romania – and in a move never seen before, allows the production team unprecedented access to his workings behind closed door to display the incredible uphill struggle of fighting these corporations, even in a government position.

The final subplot in Collective sporadically, but intimately follows Tedy Ursuleanu, a survivor of the fire who has been severely burnt and also lost fingers and parts of her hand in the disaster. Without exclusively interviewing her, we get a glimpse into her acceptance and reclamation of her life through art and activism, which is an astonishingly, emotional moving aspect of the story that serves as a reminder of why these journalists are fighting for the truth.

Collective is undoubtedly harrowing, sad and devoid of hope at some stages. But there is no denying how important the release of this documentary is to expose the corruption that takes place in the places and by the people who are there to save lives.

Thank you very much to Dendy Cinemas for allowing me to watch this incredible documentary – and before the 2021 Oscars. Collective is now showing nation wide in Dendy Cinemas. You can find showtimes and more info here:

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