Is In the Same Breath, a film about the rise of COVID-19, a documentary or a horror film? The answer is it’s both, but it’s also a fascinating chronicle of what actually happened inside Wuhan, and how both the Chinese and American people experienced the outbreak.
In it, documentary director/producer Nanfu Wang exposes the misinformation spread by the Chinese government early in the pandemic, which in part lead to the worldwide spread of the disease. Then she shows the subsequent spread in the US and its impact on our country, and on an overtaxed and increasingly emotionally exhausted fleet of healthcare workers.
She got the idea for the film while she was at Sundance 2020, which was exactly the same time Wuhan went into lockdown. Wang had just been in China for the holiday, and had left her son there with family, so her husband had to leave Sundance and go back to get him. As a Chinese-American who grew up in China, she had experienced the propaganda in which all citizens have been immersed their whole lives. She suspected there was far more to the story than the world was hearing, so she decided to create a document of the outbreak. Little did she know how far-reaching the events in China would be.
In Wuhan, very few cameras were allowed to film inside hospitals, but Wang hired several who had gotten permission to go in and do interviews and get footage. Everyone they tried to speak to made them turn off their cameras before they spoke, so she had cameras placed in the hospitals, which filmed 24 hours a day. She had camera people film in ambulances and units where people were being turned away, all while the Chinese government said the disease wasn’t spreading. When one of the filmmakers tried to film at a funeral home, there were 15 cops there keeping him from going in. He almost got arrested. A citizen journalist named Chen Quishi made videos and did interviews exposing the Chinese government’s handling of the virus, racking up millions of views on YouTube, only to disappear on February 6th. In September, he was discovered to be alive, but ‘under government supervision’.
For the entire review, go to AWFJ.org HERE.