76 Days LLC / MTV Documentary Films
For a film that begins with a wailing nurse shouting out for her dying father, and ends with the screeching of city air raid sirens to honor those who died in the coronavirus pandemic, 76 Days is yet a hopeful film that does more than just document the beginning of the global pandemic in the city in which virus cases were first reported. It is a film about resilience, compassion, empathy, improvisation, the power of human touch and caring hearts as much as it is about panic, suffering, and indiscriminate victims. The documentary captures the lockdown period of Wuhan, China, from January 23 through April 8, 2020, using a direct cinema technique across four Wuhan hospitals. With footage edited by Hao Wu in the United States and shot by Weixi Chen and a filmmaker who remains anonymous, the film captures frontline workers and the sick and dying in the earliest days of the pandemic. The film intentionally eschews the story of politics and government action and statistics, focusing instead on the humans who attempted to navigate, manage, and contain the deadly virus, all as the tragedy was unfolding. The human approach is all the more remarkable given that the doctors, nurses, and hospital personnel are essentially hidden from viewers in what amounts to makeshift hazmat suits. For capturing one of the most intimate portraits of humanity as it responded to the worst health crisis in a century, 76 Days wins a Peabody.