The Program for Education in Global and Population Health and the Student Global Health Organization hosts documentary screening and discussion with film maker Hao Wu.
On Thursday, May 6, the Program for Education in Global and Population Health (Global Pop) and the Student Global Health Organization (GHO) hosted a Zoom event with documentary film director Hao Wu to discuss his documentary, 76 Days, about the Covid-19 lockdown in Wuhan, China that began at the end of January, 2020. The discussion came at the end of a week-long screening of the documentary, which was made available to students, faculty, and staff at CUIMC.
76 Days is a powerful documentary that follows the hospital staff and patients in Wuhan hospitals in the midst of a Covid-19 lock-down. The screening website for the film states: “On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis in four hospitals, 76 DAYS tells indelible human stories of healthcare workers and patients who struggle to survive the pandemic with resilience and dignity” (https://www.76daysfilm.com/about).
At the event, Michael Yin, MD, MS, Co-Director of Global Pop, began the discussion by introducing Hao Wu and asking a few questions about his background and career, as well as the process involved in making 76 Days. Mr. Wu grew up in China before coming to the US to attend university. He originally trained as a molecular biologist and worked as a technology executive before turning to documentary films.
Mr. Wu shared that he had originally envisioned the documentary to be a global story with a lot of focus on New York City. However, the difficulties with getting permission to film inside New York hospitals were too great, and through connections in China, he was instead able to gain access to hospitals in Wuhan. Mr. Wu also shared that an important lesson for healthcare providers that he learned from making this film is the importance of global collaboration and sharing information across borders in order to save lives.
The GHO student leaders, Paul Lewis, Jackson Roberts, and Oluwaseyi (Shea) Adeuyan, facilitated the second part of the event, during which they asked questions related to how cultural differences impacted audiences’ reactions to the film, the logistics of the production, and the process involved in deciding what material to use to determine the focus of the film. Mr. Wu shared that he had about 320-350 hours of footage to work with and that the film’s focus evolved along the way, based on the recordings he was receiving and editing, which then prompted him to ask his collaborators to focus on certain aspects of a story or a character.
During the week before the event, students, faculty, and staff at CUIMC were able to register to view 76 Days for free at their leisure. The students were very excited for the chance to talk with Hao Wu about his, and his collaborators’, personal emotions involved in creating the film, the fears the collaborators had of becoming infected with Covid-19 while filming in the hospitals, and other difficulties such as obtaining consent from patients and hospital staff to be featured in the film.
Hao Wu produced 76 Days together with Weixi Chen and a second filmmaker who has chosen to remain anonymous. Weixi Chen and “Anonymous” were the cinematographers for the documentary who shot the footage inside the hospitals in Wuhan.
76 Days is the first feature documentary on the Covid-19 pandemic to play at a film festival. The documentary, which is distributed by MTV Documentary Films, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2020 and was named a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times. Other awards and distinctions include a nomination for Best Documentary at the Gotham Awards; Audience Award winner at AFI Fest; a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Production at the Cinema Eye Honor Awards; a short listing for the Cinematography Award at DOC NYC; Grand Prize for Documentary Feature winner and Richard D. Propes Social Impact Award winner at Heartland International Film Festival; Audience Award winner at Boston Asian American Film Festival; Global Impact Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; and Special Jury Mention winner at CAAM Forward.