The Oscar-nominated documentarian and his latest documentary’s beating heart on the trauma of early COVID, the difficulties of filming in the middle of pandemic ground zero, and the humanity which sees us through.
“Most people who could afford to probably did not wake up one morning in March of 2020 feeling compelled to enter ground zero for the United States of America’s then-nascent COVID-19 pandemic. Matthew Heineman, Oscar-nominated documentarian, is not most people. Having spent much of his acclaimed career bringing an empathetic and journalistic eye to such subjects as the fight against Mexico’s drug cartels and Syrian journalists’ efforts to escape the control of ISIS, Heineman is no stranger to putting his life at risk in an effort to educate and demystify terrifying situations for his audience. ‘I felt this enormous obligation to try and tell this story,’ he tells me in a Zoom call on the eve of said story’s UK theatrical release. ‘At that point, everyone was inundated with headlines and stats and misinformation. We, as an American public, were so shielded from the realities of what was going on inside hospitals. I think that was a large reason why this pandemic was allowed to be so politicised, to further divide an already fractured society, because we weren’t seeing those images coming out of these hospitals.'”