Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Wuhan Wuhan’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2021, Movies by - May 08, 2021
Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Wuhan Wuhan’

From celebrated director Yung Chang, the man behind films like Up The Yangtze, The Fruit Hunters and This is Not a Movie, comes an unflinching look at dedicated people fighting hard back against the killer that is COVID-19, Wuhan Wuhan. Co-produced with Martial Arts Legend Donnie Yen, Chang and his team starts filming in February 2020, while Wuhan is still very much in the clutches of its first massive wave of the disease, and remarkably gain full access to areas that would otherwise likely be unfathomable.

Wuhan Wuhan follows the lives of a few people at the frontlines of the crisis, like the volunteer driver that takes medical personnel from their quarantine hotels to their hospitals – be it an existing building or a makeshift facility – all while his pregnant wife worries from home. Or the psychiatrist trying to help keep the patients and doctors sane, all while dealing with issues of her own at home with her own ailing parents. Or the many medical team members highlighted here, many of whom are so bundled up in PPE that co-workers and patients only know who they are by their names scrawled in sharpie on their exterior suits. Many patients being saved and recovering without ever seeing their doctor’s face.

The film is packed with poignant moments and scenes that show the devastation and the struggle firsthand as hospitals are packed to capacity while PPE supplies are dangerously low. There’s even a segment with a patient who screams at the camera while ripping off his oxygen mask “Keep the camera on me because I’ll be dead in a couple of days”.

While one cannot recommend Wuhan Wuhan for pure entertainment purposes, it’s almost imperative that everyone watches the film for a humane purpose. Audiences are very unlikely to leave the film unchanged.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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