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Friday, November 27, 2020

Collective - Documentary Review


The Documentary: Collective

The Director: Alexander Nanau

The Story: Director Alexander Nanau follows a crack team of investigators at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor as they try to uncover a vast health-care fraud that enriched moguls and politicians and led to the deaths of innocent citizens.


The Review:
There are documentaries where you walk away having learned a few things about a particular subject and then you get on with your life and then there are documentaries change your perspective on the world, on humanity, and on your perspective of right and wrong. Alexander Nanau's film about health care fraud in Romania is one that shakes the foundations of our society and every level of government you can think of.

"We doctors, we're no longer human. We only care about money."

The above is a quote from a doctor who had had enough of the corruption and abuse and daily illegal activities that had turned Romania's entire health care management system into a giant money making scheme that was directly tied into the government. At this point in the film, you are realizing how the scope and scale of scandal is escalating to an inescapable level of OMG and WTF revelations that the fine folks at the Gazeta Sporturilor continue to unravel. I think this is where the director knew that even he had to take the storytelling to another level to unearth everything that he possibly could.

Enter Vlad Voiculescu. At the time, newly elected health minister put in place to basically be damage control although he ends up having other ideas about what the health care system in Romania should look like. Once this man enters the conversation, Nanau switched his perspective to follow the new health minister almost exclusively. One thing I love about this documentary is the level of access that the director has with pretty much all of his subjects. He has a fly on the wall view of some pretty high level meetings and it seems like everyone is as comfortable as they might be on camera with all of this crazy and quite honestly dangerous stuff they find themselves involved in.

If you weren't aware that governments are controlled by big business and, in a lot of cases, some very unsavory characters, this documentary will be quite the eye opening experience. For everything that is revealed, there is no way to look at it any other way and, even though the primary setting is in Romania, you can see so many direct parallels to our own US government especially with how money is the driving force of basically everything. Corruption is so commonplace and underhanded activity is so normalized, you begin to wonder, right along with the subjects of the documentary, if there is any way to clean any of it up.

The final thing that I will note is how the director makes sure to keep the victims of the Collectiv nightclub tragedy relevant while showing how the health care system did everything possible to treat them as less than human. People like Tedy Ursuleanu how survived the fire yet lost a lot of her life both physically and psychologically. Nanau shows her strength and resolve through the struggles she has faced over the years since the fire. He shows why her treatment, as well as that of so many others, was prioritized by politics and money instead of what should have been simply about saving lives.


The Verdict:
Collective is a shocking documentary that will have you questioning everything you know about government and health care. Director Alexander Nanau documents this unreal news story as it unravels in front of the world.


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