Participant and Magnolia Pictures have acquired the North American rights to “Collective,” a documentary from director Alexander Nanau (“Toto and His Sisters”) that traces a thread of corruption to the highest levels of the Romanian government in the wake of a devastating nightclub fire, the companies announced Thursday.
“Collective” made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and then played TIFF. Magnolia and Participant are eyeing a spring 2020 theatrical release for the documentary.
In 2015, a fire at the Bucharest club Colectiv left 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims began dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then, a doctor blew the whistle to a team of investigative journalists and one revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover a vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces.
Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, “Collective” is described as an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best.
“‘Collective’ is an amazing achievement in investigative filmmaking,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “Alexander Nanau takes us down a wild rabbit hole filled with improbable heroes and institutional villains that should serve as a dire warning to everyone who believes in a civilized society.”
“We are incredibly proud of a legacy of films about investigative journalists who expose corruption and injustice — from ‘Spotlight’ and ‘The Post’ to ‘Citizenfour’ and ‘Page One: Inside the New York Times,'” Diane Weyermann, Participant chief content officer, said in a statement. “And we are thrilled to be working with our friends at Magnolia on Alexander Nanau’s absolutely extraordinary ‘Collective.'”
“With Magnolia and Participant, I am confident that ‘Collective’ will find a wide audience in North America,” Nanau said in a statement. “I believe in the power of cinema, and hope to contribute with ‘Collective’ to a better understanding of the forces that shape our lives in today’s crumbling democracies. I feel honoured to go on this journey with the best in the field.”
Directed and filmed by Alexander Nanau, ‘Collective’ is produced by Nanau and Bianca Oana. The film is an Alexander Nanau Production, Samsa Film Luxembourg, HBO Europe production, supported by Romanian Film Centre, Film Fund Luxembourg and Sundance Documentary Fund, with the participation of Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, YES Docu. Hanka Kastelicova produced for HBO Europe and Bernard Michaux produced for Samsa Film Luxembourg. Executive producers are Antony Root and Philippa Kowarsky.
Participant and Magnolia most recently collaborated on the Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, “RBG.” Magnolia will release Participant’s “Slay the Dragon” in 2020.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden with Cinetic Media and Cinephil on behalf of the filmmakers, as well as Danice Woodley, SVP of Business and Legal Affairs of Participant.