In the Same Breath
HBO Documentary Films Presents a Motto Pictures/Little Horse Crossing the River/Little Lantern Company Production
For years, if not decades to come, the “COVID documentary” will sustain as a genre as more and more filmmakers from around the world look keenly into the ways this still raging pandemic has affected our lives. But to reduce Nanfu Wang’s beautifully realized film with such a label is to risk flattening its artistry, simplifying its intent, and ultimately, blunting its impact. For, as a personal essay-cum-verité chronicle of the early months of the pandemic in Wuhan, China, In the Same Breath is a towering achievement. The documentary offers viewers unprecedented access to the frontline workers in Wuhan hospitals during the months where no one knew much about a novel coronavirus, with many of Wang’s camera operators opting for anonymity even in the film’s credits, a powerful reminder of the risk they took in capturing what state media carefully kept out of view. Indeed, Wang’s interest in the propaganda created by the Chinese government, which all but spun the imminent crisis into a PR problem to be solved, turns her diaristic examination of her home country’s COVID response into a searing and prescient document on how a global health emergency would soon come to be politicized. For deftly capturing the harrowing first months of the Wuhan outbreak and artfully contextualizing China’s sociopolitical response, all while grounding it in a deeply personal narrative, In the Same Breath wins a Peabody.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Network/Station/Platform: HBO/HBO Max. Creator: Nanfu Wang. Executive Producers: Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller (HBO). Associate Producers/Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang; Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Sara Rodriguez (HBO). Director: Nanfu Wang. Editors: Nanfu Wang, Michael Shade. Cinematography: Matt Yu, Michelle Gao, Anonymous D, Anonymous K, R.C. Song, K. Yang, Jarred Alterman, Yuanchen Liu, Tom Bergmann, Martina Radwan, Michael Shade, Peter Alton, Rex Miller, Sam Rong, Gil de la Rosa, Paul Szynol. Sound/Music: Nathan Halpern.