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Hard hitting documentary nails Chinese misinformation on virus

Director Nanfu Wang

Forewarned is forearmed. This was exactly what China suppressed when it came to the breakout of the pandemic Covid-19 in Wuhan and other parts of its country. Bringing this crucial aspect of deliberate camouflage by her native country is the well-known Chinese director Nanfu Wang’s latest documentary In The Same Breath. The film goes on to add to the infinitely growing list of atrocities committed by China in the past including the Tiananmen Square massacre and the continuing crimes against Tibetans and Uighur Muslims.

The documentary pointedly portrays how one of the five Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China, flouting itsmoral and legal responsibility, deliberately and systematically, hid the outbreak of Covid-19. Instead of forewarning its citizens and the world at large, the nation, and its leaders, downplayed the break out of the virus, through the State-controlled media, including television. Hardly behoving, a country which has the world’s largest population and is one of the fastest developing economies having commercial and trading relations with multiple countries.

Contrary to taking corrective steps, the authorities are depicted in the movie banning social-media posts about Corona, barring symptomatic persons from getting admitted into hospitals, and penalising doctors who had the honesty and courage to speak up about the virus and the risks it entails. Precisely this clampdown, the film stresses resulted in a large number of deaths, and most importantly, keeping Chinese citizens and the world at large uninformed about the disease and its fallouts.

In a despatch The Washington Post has stated that the film talks about “eight doctors being punished for ‘spreading rumours about an unknown pneumonia’ after discussing the virus in private group texts — a warning repeated by state news anchors for days. A public-address
announcement blares: ‘A reminder from the police: obey laws and regulations for online activities’ in the streets. A man is taken to the police station and fingerprinted for a cellphone video of a long line outside a funeral home.”

Wang is equally critical of the US in the film where more than four lakh deaths and nearly 26 million confirmed cases have been reported. In an interview to the website Deadline, she said: “The more I saw what happened in the US, I had more questions.  I would say it was my political awakening moment of seeing the US in a new way that I never did.”

Adopting guerrilla filmmaking, Wang’s film has been shot with several cameras and freelancers, who have filmed in hospitals, emergency wards and ambulances.

The documentary will be screened at the ongoing Sundance Film Festival today and tomorrow and is expected on HBO later this year. Financed by HBO the film was specially screened for The Washington Post.