HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Director Nanfu Wang, a revered and celebrated Chinese filmmaker, narrates and presents the COVID-19 story from its origins in Wuhan, China, to its arrival in the United States, with no filter, in the documentary In the Same Breath.
The film begins with the elaborate Wuhan New Year’s Eve celebration, where more than 11 million people reside in a dense area of China divided by the Yangtze and Han rivers. Within hours of welcoming 2020, the Year of the Rat, reports of coronavirus began to emerge. Not long after, Wang had to mobilize her family as her son lives in China with his grandmother, yet she still managed to gather a crew in both the United States and China to capture what she knew was to be something important.
“…as the numbers come in slowly and then as if in an instant, humanity is in the grips of a global, paralyzing pandemic.”
In the U.S., not much longer behind Wuhan’s outbreak, it’s the same course, as the numbers come in slowly and then as if in an instant, humanity is in the grips of a global, paralyzing pandemic. As so many were glued to their televisions and devices following the daily developments of how COVID-19 infiltrated everyone’s existence, the filmmaker did not waste a moment in rallying to find answers and understand how and why the coronavirus became a global pandemic. Images of how the Republic of China mobilizes to handle its immense population are mesmerizing. Through Wang’s intimate and gifted storytelling, and her filmmaking abilities, she offers a lens of understanding to the delicate nature of life and death, especially for the frontline men and women who were tackling this faceless and mysterious illness changing life as we know it.
If ever a theory or question about China’s handling of COVID-19 has crossed one’s mind, especially upon its arrival to the U.S., Wang verifies the disease through the incredible description, imagery, narration, and fearless drive to understand something that affected her family in both nations. Her honed and well-awarded skills allowed her to do a great deal of In the Same Breath remotely, which is unnoticeable and undetected, much like how COVID-19 moved through the world—stealth and with purpose.
"…something larger and more destructive than COVID-19 might be on the horizon."