A politicized healthcare crisis, horrifyingly unnecessary death, a crucial election. “Collective,” a piercing documentary about corruption in Romania, may not directly concern current events but it feels urgent and vital just the same.
In 2015, a fire swept through a Bucharest nightclub without emergency exits. Footage early in “Collective” (in theaters and on-demand Friday) captures the frighteningly fast flames engulfing the crowded club just after, fittingly, a punk band scream a song about endemic corruption in the Eastern European country. The fire left 27 dead and 180 injured. But the real scandal came after; another 37 people died of burn wounds that shouldn’t have been life threatening.
It’s in that aftermath that Romanian director Alexander Nanau began trailing the journalists of Gazeta Sporturilor, a sports tabloid that under editor Cătălin Tolontan consistently advanced the story with dogged reporting. They uncovered the heinous reason for the out-of-control bacteria in Romanian hospitals: a firm called Hexi Pharma, along with a mafia