2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: COLLECTIVE

COLLECTIVE | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Alexander Nanau uncovers disturbing corruption in Romanian state agencies following a fatal nightclub fire in Bucharest.

Festival Section:

Sundance Program Description:

Premiering at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, COLLECTIVE has captivated audiences with its real-life tale of systemic corruption and the journalists who expose it.

On October 30, 2015, a fire at the Bucharest club Colectiv killed 27 people and injured 180, leading to public protests that brought down the Romanian government. When an additional 37 people died in the hospital from infection, journalist Cătălin Tolontan and the reporters at Romania’s Sports Gazette newspaper exposed the unchecked corruption that sacrificed countless lives for the greed of a few.

At the same time, others fought hard against the system of oppression strangling the nation, including several whistleblowers, a young bureaucrat who tried to reform the system despite entrenched opposition, and a survivor from the Colectiv fire who expressed her pain through art. With the feel of a real-life political thriller, COLLECTIVE takes us inside the world of reporters and other brave Romanian citizens who confronted the failure of the state with the only weapon they had: the truth.

Some Background:


  • Alexander Nanau

    Nanau is an International Emmy-winning Romanian filmmaker, whose most recent film, TOTO AND HIS SISTERS, screened extensively on the festival circuit and won several accolades. He received a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Grant for this, his fourth documentary feature, for which he also serves as cinematographer.


  • Bianca Oana

    Oana executive produced Nanau’s TOTO and most recently produced Berlin winner TOUCH ME NOT.

  • Bernard Michaux

    Michaux is managing partner of Luxembourg-based production company Samsa Films.

  • Hanka Kastelicová
    Past Sundance docs:


    Kastelicová is the executive producer of documentaries for HBO Europe. She also produced fellow 2020 Sundance documentary feature ACASA, MY HOME, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Kastelicová’s previous projects include the Oscar shortlisted documentary feature COMMUNION.

Executive Producers:

  • Antony Root

    The Emmy-nominated Root is EVP, original programming and production at HBO Europe. He previously produced Sundance alumni fiction feature EDWARD II.

  • Philippa Kowarsky
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE CLEANERS (2018)

    The Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning Kowarsky is the founder and managing director of notable Tel Aviv-based international sales company Cinephil.


  • Antoaneta Opris

    This is the first film credit for Opris, who also lead the research team for this project.


  • George Cragg

    Cragg previously cut Sundance alumni fiction features DIVINE LOVE, I AM NOT A WITCH, and WOMEN WITHOUT MEN. He also cut Nanau’s TOTO.

  • Dana Bunescu

    Bunescu has edited several notable Romanian features including THE DEATH OF MR LAZARESCU and 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS. This is her first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Nanau’s film was rightly singled out as among the best nonfiction offerings at last year’s Toronto and Venice fests, and was acquired by Magnolia Pictures for a May 15 release. Nanau has crafted an observational exposé that is absolutely gripping and deeply disturbing in equal measure, chronicling intrepid reporters as they follow the development of a scandal, the unraveling of state-sanctioned lies, and the unbelievable impact the story had on the government.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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