In March 2020, director Matthew Heineman '05 and three equally fearless filmmakers embedded in a hospital in Queens, New York to capture the pandemic's first wave...from behind the frontlines. The result is an intensely intimate documentary, a graphic and emotional reminder of the early days of the crisis, in all its confusion and horror. The story focuses on three everyday heroes: the tireless and charismatic internist Dr. Nathalie Dougé and two critical COVID patients: NYPD Officer Ahmed Eliis and nurse/new mother Brussels Jabon.
Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman knows that each distinct storyline serves as a microcosm through which we can experience the emotional and societal rollercoaster of the pandemic. While this can be a challenging film to watch, its rewards far outweigh the heartbreak. Eighteen months into this pandemic, The First Wave urgently reminds us what's at stake while also delivering a breathtaking testament to the fight to live, the calling to heal and the power of human connection. D: Matthew Heineman, US, 2021
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