The First Wave: The Human Face of Covid-19

The First Wave: The Human Face of Covid-19

The National Geographic documentary The First Wave captures the harrowing first four months of the Covid-19 pandemic as it played out in one of New York City’s hardest-hit hospital systems.

Joining us is Matthew Heineman, an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker who directed and produced this film. 

The incredible footage he obtained and shaped into The First Wave represents a testimony to the strength of the human spirit and how people come together in the face of crisis.

He shares how he gained access to the hospital at the beginning of the crisis, the heroes he filmed, and the inevitable emotional toll the production had on him and his crew. 

“I saw an obligation to take this issue that was so relegated to stats, headlines, and misinformation, and try to put a human face to it.” – Matthew Heineman

Time Stamps:

00:00 – The trailer for The First Wave.
04:04 – What the film is about.
05:25 – What motivated Matthew to make the film.
08:18 – How he gained access to the hospital.
10:40 – The uncertainty he had going into this project.
13:14 – How they moved from filming healthcare workers to patients.
18:03 – A clip from the film showing how things escalated at the start of the pandemic. 
20:31 – How Matthew incorporated the Black Lives Matter protests into the film.
22:01 – The emotional toll making the documentary had on Matthew and the film crew.
24:56 – The lessons he hopes people will take from this film.
29:11 – The different filmmakers who were involved in the creation of this film.
31:58 – The next projects Matthew is working on.
33:45 – A clip from the film showing the toll the pandemic has had on families.  


The First Wave (2021)
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare (2021)
MovieMaker Magazine
Innersound Audio
Alamo Pictures

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More From Factual America:
The Rescue: A Story of Bravery, Cave Diving and Generosity
The Crime of the Century: Pharma and the US Opioid Crisis

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Episode 81