Imagine Erin Brockovich teaming up with Woodward and Bernstein, and you’re halfway to this wild story on a nightclub fire and even crazier cover-up

I’ll likely add this to my List of Best Social Justice Documentaries when I update that later in 2024.

Trailer for “Collective”

Watch “Collective”

Release Dates: September 4, 2019 (Venice) and February 28, 2020 (Romania)

You can stream it for free on:

…or stream it for $$ on Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube, etc. ($3.99 to $4.59 last I checked).

Check here for the latest Collective streaming options:

Netflix is not streaming Collective right now.

But, strangely, they do have a page for it:

So you can select Netflix “Remind Me” button to get alerted about it. Perhaps Netflix carried it in the past and plans to bring it back.


  • My Rating: 96/100
  • IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 92/100 (Users); 99/100 (Critics)

Review of “Collective”

In a world drowning in “content,” a documentary like “Collective” hits with sobering, vital force.

Released in 2019 and directed by Alexander Nanau, this gripping Romanian film delves into the fallout from a devastating 2015 nightclub fire in Bucharest—a tragedy that killed 64 people and injured 146.

“Collective” is an unflinching investigation of institutional rot. The film follows a team of dogged journalists as they expose staggering corruption in Romania’s healthcare system.

The doc opens with the Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest on October 30, 2015. This tragedy initially claimed 26 lives on site, but the aftermath was even more tragic as survivors started dying in hospitals from preventable infections.

Over the following months, 38 more victims died due to infections caused by diluted disinfectants used in hospitals.

The shocking reason? Hexi Pharma, a major supplier to Romanian hospitals, had been providing disinfectants diluted to as little as 10% of their stated concentration.

This cost-cutting measure led to catastrophic consequences, revealing a scandal that rocked the nation.

We meet our protagonist, Cătălin Tolontan, an investigative journalist for the sports newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor. Tolontan and his team, with more heart than budget, start digging into the disaster, suspecting there’s more to the story than a tragic accident.

Their relentless pursuit of the truth is nothing short of heroic. Tolontan isn’t just chasing a story; he’s fighting a war against a corrupt system that values profit over human life.

Tolontan and his team discover that victims were being treated with ineffective disinfectants, allowing infections to spread unchecked. Nanau masterfully weaves together vérité footage of Tolontan’s interviews, tense newsroom debates, and chilling hospital scenes.

The soundtrack is equal parts mournful and urgent. The interviews are the film’s beating heart.

We meet grieving parents, disillusioned doctors, and a particularly memorable whistleblower. This pharmacist has a spine of steel and a moral compass that would shame Captain America.

As the investigation gathers steam, it becomes clear that Gazeta Sporturilor is poking a very large, very corrupt bear. Threats roll in. The government spins a web of disinformation. Tolontan’s own safety becomes increasingly precarious.

The film doesn’t shy away from the emotional toll. We see the strain on Tolontan’s face. There is fear in his eyes. His unwavering resolve keeps him pushing forward.

The Romanian healthcare minister, Vlad Voiculescu, plays a crucial role in this story. A bespectacled economist with a background in patient advocacy, Voiculescu takes on the daunting task of reforming a deeply corrupt system.

His efforts are met with fierce resistance from entrenched interests. He navigates a labyrinth of bureaucracy, dodging political daggers from those intent on maintaining the corrupt status quo.

Voiculescu’s determination and decency stand in stark contrast to the corruption he faces.

The film culminates in a series of mass protests that bring Bucharest to a standstill. The anger is palpable. The frustration is raw. Yet, there’s also a glimmer of hope. These aren’t just angry mobs. They are citizens demanding accountability. They demand better.

Voiculescu’s efforts symbolize a beacon of hope. This reminds us that even in the darkest corners, good people can emerge to fight for justice.

Nanau’s direction is masterful. He captures the raw emotion and relentless pursuit of truth. The cinéma vérité style places you directly in the midst of the action.

From the newsroom of Gazeta Sporturilor, where Tolontan and his team chase leads with won’t-quit zeal, to the halls of parliament where Voiculescu tries to outmaneuver his enemies, every moment is charged with intensity.

The survivors’ stories add a deeply personal layer to the film. Tedy Ursuleanu, a survivor who becomes an activist, represents the resilience of the human spirit.

Her journey from victim to advocate is inspiring. Her stoicism and grit are evident despite her physical and emotional scars. The documentary also highlights the tragic loss felt by the victims’ families.

They seethe with incandescent anger. They demand justice for their loved ones.

“Collective” is not a comfortable watch. It’s a wake-up call. It’s a stark reminder of the consequences of corruption and unchecked greed. It’s a testament to the power of investigative journalism.

This profession is increasingly under siege. But most importantly, it’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, the power of collective outrage can force change.

What Nanau captures is enraging, heartbreaking, and utterly riveting. The sheer guts it takes for Tolontan and his team to go up against such a corrupt system is inspiring.

As the film ends, a dispiriting election result suggests that complacency and corruption may still rule the day in Romania. The documentary’s vital power lies in its insistence that the truth matters.

In an era of disinformation and “alternative facts,” “Collective” stands as a bracing dose of cinematic clarity.

This work of journalism is as necessary as it is devastating.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc