Even though the virus that causes COVID-19 originated from China, Hao Wu, the director of “76 Days,” explains that life in the country has very much gone back to the way things were pre-pandemic. “Based on what I learned, not just from the co-directors, but also from friends and families in China, right now the COVID situation in China is pretty stable,” Wu tells Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Television Documentary panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). There were occasional batches of cases that would pop up but nothing like what the United States experienced with the massive spikes in the winter months. “There were some, a few scares here and there in different cities, but every single time, if there were more than like 10 cases identified, the government pretty much shut down that entire city again.”
Produced by MTV Documentary Films, “76 Days” examines the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China through the perspectives of the staff of four separate hospitals in the province. The title comes from the period of time that the first lockdown spanned in the province. The film shows how the hospitals are quickly overwhelmed by the number of patients that are coming in as well as how the doctors and nurses are pushed to the brink in having to care for so many people including both the sick and their families.
One of Wu’s two co-directors, Weixi Chen, a video reporter for Esquire China, wasted no time in getting himself to the center of the situation to document what was happening. “As soon as he heard the lockdown was happening, he flew himself to Wuhan because he wanted to document history. And, uh, even though he has a reporter badge, he was turned down by four different hospitals.” It was only when Chen connected with an outside medical team being brought in that he was able to gain access. “Since he arrived at the receiving hospital in Wuhan together with a medical team, for while the local hospital thought he was working, as part of a medical team.”
Wu’s other co-director, Anonymous, had his name withheld due several reasons. One was that the man works as a photojournalist for state-run media and the team was very unsure how the Chinese government would react to seeing the pandemic displayed in such brutal terms. But there was another dark reason for him to remain unnamed. “There have been a growing number of internet trolls in China who are increasingly nationalistic who perceive any potentially negative portrayal of the government as unpatriotic.” All of these factors combined, made for a very delicate situation for Wu’s co-director. “He was afraid of getting into trouble and maybe he would lose his job.”
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