Toronto 2019: Collective

Collective. Courtesy of TIFF.

Alexander Nanau’s documentary, Collective, shows the importance of the media especially when it comes to exposing corruption.

No matter what country you live in, the freedom of press is important.  Certainly, the man living in the White House would beg to differ.  But we’re not talking about him, are we?  No, the topic at hand is the fire that took place at the Colectiv club in Bucharest on October 30, 2015.  What happened on that day was a tragedy.  There were 27 people killed and another 180 injured.  How is it that any club be allowed to operate without any working fire exits?  If this were the United States, those clubs would be forced to shut down until they get corrected.  Again, this event didn’t take place in the US but still.

Reporters for the Sports Gazette have certainly worked their asses off.  Editor-in-chief Catalin Tolontan leads the charge with fellow editors Mirela Neag and Razvan Lutac.  They could rival the hardest working award-winning reporters in the US.  Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The point is that it was their work that brought down Romania’s Minister of Health.  There was also a criminal investigation into Hexi Pharma.  All because they promised to help the burn victims.  However, many victims would end up dead.  How and why is this happening?!?  None of the wounds were life-threatening.  Therefore, their deaths shouldn’t have happened.  The moral of this story is to not make any promises that you can’t keep!

When Dr. Camelia Roiu discloses a big secret to the Sports Gazette, the dominoes start to fall.  Once she opens up, more doctors feel comfortable in speaking the truth.  This should remind people that all it takes is one person to blow the whistle!  And people say that one is the loneliest number…

This film is a true testament to the power of investigative journalism.  We’re not just following these reporters but we’re seeing the complete toppling of the healthcare system in Romania as we know it.  Both burn victims and whistle blowers speak out.  When Vlad Voiculescu gets appointed as the new Minster of Health, he promises to enact changes in the system.  He’s also very open about his efforts, too.  To much credit, the documentary benefits from his cooperation.  The filmmakers probably would not have gotten this from the previous minister.

Filmmaker Alexander Nanau frames the film as if we’re right there in the room with up.  He is able to get up close and personal.  There’s no interviews here.  Everything unfolds on camera with no prompting from the filmmakers.  If Dr. Camelia Roiu doesn’t blow the whistle, it’s really hard to predict what could have happened.

While focusing on a tragedy, Collective displays the true power of the media.  This film probably might not be on the radar for many people.  I hope this changes.  It also shouldn’t be ignored.  I cannot stress this enough.  Whoever picks up this film for distribution certainly has a gem on its hand.  There is a freedom of the press for good reason.  We should always be holding leadership accountable.

DIRECTOR:  Alexander Nanau
FEATURING:  Catalin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, Camelia Roiu, Tedy Ursuleanu, Vlad Voiculescu, Razvan Lutac, Narcis Hogea, Nicoleta Ciobanu, Mihaela Hogea, Laura Nitu

Collective holds its North American premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the TIFF Docs program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.