It’s hard for humans to get perspective on suffering. Particularly, if we’re still going through it. Or, if it happens far away. Both are the case when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still living through the most widespread health emergency in recent history. It originated in a far away land, one about which we don’t know much. Therefore, it’s a pressure-cooker combination that has resulted in extreme fear, anxiety and hate. The level of hate toward Asians around the world is insane, and I do feel that if more people would just watch Wuhan Wuhan, and films like it, it wouldn’t happen.
The Technical Side
Before I get into the human aspect, I want to talk about the setting and technical side. Filmed during the first couple of months of 2020 by a Canadian filmmaker, Wuhan Wuhan is a portrait of 6 people as they go through the first period of the COVID-19 pandemic. From a pregnant couple, to a mother and her young boy, to an old grandfather and everything in between, it’s a logistical challenge in its scope. But one that the filmmakers were able to overcome, to present an intimate, human portrayal of this unprecedented crisis.
The film looks amazing, to the point where sometimes it could have passed for a narrative feature. Most of the time, it’s run-and-gun documentary fare, but there are some intimate shots, particularly of the pregnant couple, that are incredibly visual and complete.
Wuhan Wuhan Is About The People
I’m happy to report, though, that the film goes well beyond its technical achievements. In fact, the heart of the movie are the characters. Wuhan Wuhan does an incredible job at humanizing the phenomenon we’re living in. In particular, the film is extremely effective in showing us just how hard it was for the people of Wuhan to be the first to deal with it.
We may take testing, even vaccination for granted now. But back in February of 2020, we didn’t know much about the virus. Testing procedures were still being developed, let alone treatment. We had no infrastructure. Nobody was prepared.
So, to see just how devastating the effect of this uncertainty was on the people of Wuhan really drives home the fact that they were the first victims.
Humanizing a Crisis
In October of last year, I ended a decades-long friendship. We were talking in a group chat, and she made racist remarks against the Chinese, blaming them for the pandemic and insulting their ways of living. I was shocked. Not least because we’d met as immigrants in Canada. To see this level of hatred and racism from an immigrant is odd, insulting and absolutely intolerable.
I wish I could show her Wuhan Wuhan. I hold out hope that, had she seen how they suffered, she would have reconsidered her position. Perhaps not, but I believe it would have gone a long way toward bridging the gap between her understanding of the situation and the reality of it.
Seeing doctors crying because they didn’t have supplies, and mothers terrified to lose their children to an illness they knew nothing about will overcome the hatred we see on social media and the press, I think.
Alas, I don’t know if that’d be the case. But I do think Wuhan Wuhan is an important document, and an amazing film. It’s hard to watch, particularly as I live in a region where there’s no vaccination in sight. But I’m extremely grateful to know that films such as this one are out there. That they exist to deter hate, to inform people and create empathy, is perhaps the best long-term tribute to the heroes and victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SCREENING INFORMATION: https://www.wuhanwuhandoc.com/