“Collective” (MA) *** and a half
A SIGNIFICANT sector of its potential Canberra audience may find familiar ground in this documentary by Bucharest-born writer (in co-operation with Antoaneta Opris) and producer/director Alexander Nanau.
In 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv Club left 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from not life-threatening wounds.
A doctor blew the whistle to journalists at “Gazeta Sporturilor”, a newspaper covering sport rather than general news.
One revelation led to another as journalist Catalin Tolontan began uncovering vast health-care fraud. A newly-appointed health minister offered unprecedented access to efforts to reform the corrupt system and also to the obstacles he was facing.
How might a documentary made in 2019 about large-scale fraud and corruption in a relatively small nation (12th largest European country in size, 6th most populous state in the European Union) resonate in an Australian audience? Without doubt, Nanau’s film canvasses the issues in detail. It’s a compelling yarn.
And how have matters in Romania progressed since its release?
And why would many Canberra filmgoers find it familiar territory? Fortunately, the issue driving “Collective” is not endemic in Australia. But it illuminates a government presence that functions in a manner very similar to Canberra’s main industry. And finds it wanting.
Nanau’s anger about the subject matter of “Collective” is palpable. It’s apparent that he never intended it to provide entertainment. But it illuminates behaviour by men in places of power against which every country on the planet must guard and have no compunction about extirpating if it does arise. In my view, that’s an essential purpose.