NEON, the film distributor who brought you the Oscar Best Picture winner Parasite last year, returns with yet another incredibly timely film. The past nine months have wrought havoc on the world’s estimated 8 billion people. In the biggest global health crisis in 100 years, more than 1 million people have died from over 33 million cases of COVID-19 infections. Social and economic structures have endured unfathomable stress, and our lives have changed in drastic and bewildering ways. We are left to wonder – how exactly did this all happen?
Alex Gibney, an Academy Award winner for Taxi to the Dark Side and a Miami Film Festival alumnus, working with co-directors Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger, walks us back to the beginning of the “totally under control” American response, when early reports from Wuhan began reaching the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. The filmmakers reconstruct the timeline of the days and weeks of the first half of 2020 and capture the essential moments of indecision, confusion and contradictions – discovering a pattern of recommendations by medical experts, doctors and scientists being sidelined by political jockeying.
Through it all, a larger theme emerges – as institutions in so many traditional industries teeter and/or topple in our present age, perhaps it is worth leaving the most important decisions in the hands of trained professionals?