As the first film accepted into the 2020 True/False Film Festival, Collective tells a remarkable story of freedom, corruption and the overwhelming power of the truth. Director Alexander Nanau filmed a story that erupted in 2015 at a Bucharest nightclub in southern Romania — Collectiv — where a fire quickly spread, instantly killing dozens of people. If the problem wasn’t harrowing enough, many more continued to parish in hospitals across the country.
Nanau angled the film to follow investigative journalists taking matters into their own hands in the face of a dismissive, lying government.The film centered on journalist Catalin Tolotan and his colleagues as they uncovered lies and decades of political deception while examining the shockingly high death toll of the accident.
“Nanau’s documentary mirrored the intricacies of a murder mystery and was incredibly organized with no wasted frame.”
Nanau’s documentary mirrored the intricacies of a murder mystery and was incredibly organized with no wasted frame. He followed journalists, a survivor of the Collectiv catastrophe and powerful politicians including former Romanian Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu. Collective illustrated the powers of photojournalism through environmental portraits of the burn victims and the necessity of moral leaders willing to tell the truth no matter how terrifying.
As the film twisted and turned into the deepest depths of unsound government and wicked politicians, a phenomenal drive for justice erupted. The film captured the essence of what it looks like to fight for the survival of a country. The film exposes one to the ugly realities of corruption and forced me to reflect on my own understanding of government and human nature. As I witnessed the purposeful murders in a struggling country, I recognized the consequences of poisoned democracy.
If it weren’t for the freedom of the press, the truth would never have been uncovered. Tolotan faced apprehension insurmountably throughout his work on the story, confronting even his own son who questioned his ability to continue.
Not only were the efforts of good people heartening, but I was also utterly taken aback by the reality of a corrupt foreign country. It felt as though I was watching a fiction film, something straight out of James Bond or Jason Bourne. It was unbelievably eye opening to witness these stories of good and evil come to life in the real world. I believe Nanau had a purpose in this idea: to show unaware people that bad things can happen when the wrong people are in charge, bad things that aren’t necessarily only in movies.
“It’s enveloped mystery and fight to preserve the truth will keep any viewer thoroughly engaged and questioning their own voice in society.”
The film wrestled with the difficulties of sound politics and advocated for voting, especially in young people.
A final takeaway of this film was its intimacy with burn victims and their families in the aftermath of the disaster. I resonated with the significance of how selfish political decisions tore apart innocent lives. There was power in survival, however, as victims came forward to recognize the need to keep living and become a voice for the voiceless.
I highly recommend Collective to any documentary junkie. Its enveloped mystery and fight to preserve the truth will keep any viewer thoroughly engaged and questioning their own voice in society. The film began with a raging fire, and attempted to bring down a toxic Romanian government through the advocacy of the truth.
How important do you think the truth is in politics and journalism? Let us know in the comments below.