Posted in: Movies, Tattle

‘It was just a bunch of thugs’: how Collective uncovered a web of state corruption in Romania

A tenacious team of sports journalists and a persistent whistleblower turn this documentary into a newsroom drama as thrilling as All the President’s Men

Collective begins with profoundly upsetting footage filmed by clubbers on their phones of the fire that broke out in 2015 at a crowded Bucharest nightclub, Colectiv. A Romanian band is singing angrily – “Fuck all your wicked corruption. It’s been there since our inception” – before stopping abruptly to ask if anyone has a fire extinguisher. What appeared to be a striking firework display above the heads of the musicians turns out to be a fire, and within seconds flames have engulfed the building and teenagers are running for their lives.

It is a shocking sequence, but it is not the most disturbing element of an extraordinary documentary that reveals a staggering degree of corruption running through Romania’s health system. The fire left 27 dead and 180 injured, but in the weeks that followed another 37 people died from wounds that should not have been life-threatening, many killed by infections picked up in hospital.

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