February 25, 2021

SCREEN | Witnessing '76 Days' Locked Down in Wuhan

"I will never forget."
Hao Wu Weixi Chen | 76 Days
MTV Documentary Films
76 Days, a very stark but stunning documentary about the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, captures the obstacles against human resilience in the quickly escalating battle to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease at Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in China. Directed by New York-based Chinese-American filmmaker Hao Wu from Weixi Chen and an anonymous third director who gathered the harrowing frontline footage featured, the stripped-down film is almost unbelievable in its immediacy and intimacy.

How the documentary tells indelible human stories during the pandemic bears witness to the cycles of tragic death and hopeful rebirth in a city under a 76-day lockdown. Consisting entirely of in-the-moment video edited together with no narration, interviews, news clips, or other linking editorial techniques, 76 Days transports you fully into the growing crisis through its unprecedented access documenting doctors, nurses, patients, caregivers, and hospital staff struggling to contain and treat the crisis.

It's truly astonishing how the filmmakers were able to capture so many profound moments of pure humanity as modern history was unfolding in front of the subjects all told guerilla-style. How the frontline workers act out of compassion and patience in the most trying of circumstances feels beyond powerful.

What's so remarkable about 76 Days is its humanity and the incredible first-hand portraits captured. Everyone featured feels both anonymous and closely personal in their depiction. It puts very clear faces to the disease and China's fractured initial response during its winter lockdown.

76 Days screened virtually at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival online. It's available to stream on Paramount+ and through various digital platforms.

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