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‘Collective’ Chronicles a Romanian Health Care Scandal With Unprecedented Access

The Film Stage

By Vikram Murthi

Part journalism procedural and part depressing exposé, Alexander Nanau’s verité documentary Collectiveexamines the institutional corruption at the heart of the Romanian health care sector. The existence of such organized malfeasance will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen any of the Romanian New Wave films that touch on the country’s nightmarish bureaucracy. But, really, any sentient human being living in the western world won’t be blindsided by the fact that for-profit industries cuts corners or that government officials outright lie to the press about various wrongdoings. Many Americans, currently living through an epistemological crisis of staggering proportions, are now slowly inured to such ugly realities.

With that said, even true cynics might still be disturbed by Collective. Nanau chronicles a scandal so devastating in its effects that it’s really only comparable to the horrifying incident that precipitated it. In 2015, a deadly fire broke out in the Bucharest club Collectiv. It immediately claimed 27 lives, but 38 more subsequently died in hospitals weeks after the tragedy. It turns out that these medical facilities were using a diluted disinfectant that was useless against killing dangerous bacteria. Thus, deadly infections became rampant and people died of preventable diseases, all because doctors were operating in septic conditions. Read More.