On Thursday, National Geographic released the trailer for a heart-wrenching new documentary The First Wave. The documentary features exclusive video access into one of New York’s hardest-hit hospitals during the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic; Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
At the helm of the documentary is Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Matthew Heineman. The film is produced alongside Jenna Millman (The Boy From Medellín) and Leslie Norville (A Ballerina’s Tale) under Heineman’s production company Our Time Projects. The film debuted at the Hamptons International Film Festival and has proceeded to win multiple awards along the film festival circuit, including the David Carr Award at the Montclair Film Festival.
As shown in the trailer, The First Wave centers around doctors, nurses, and patients at the epicenter of the pandemic as they navigate the crisis. The trailer also showcases notable events that occurred in the first few months of the pandemic such as the George Floyd protests and how the events intertwine. Heineman had this to say about filming the project:
“I felt a deep responsibility to document this unprecedented moment in time, to put people in the shoes of those who lived it on the front lines. There are many things that I hope audiences take away from this film, but for me, it’s a story about how people come together in times of crisis, it’s about resilience, it’s about the power of hope and the strength of the human spirit.”
Included in the film are Dr. Nathalie Dougé and ICU Nurse Kellie Wunsch, shown as they risk their lives working to save others, alongside COVID-19 patients Ahmed Ellis and Brussels Jabon, as they fight to survive. Each storyline exhibits both the emotional and societal impact of the pandemic on everyday citizens and heroes.
Heineman, known for his immersive style, has received nominations for both narrative and documentary Director’s Guild of America Awards. He won three Primetime Emmy Awards for his documentary Cartel Land, and has since won two Emmys and two DGA awards for various projects. Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Scripted Content and Documentary Films for National Geographic described Heineman as having, “a unique talent for gripping and deeply intimate filmmaking that reveals the humanity at the heart of every story he tells. We couldn’t think of a more urgent time to share this compelling and inspiring work of art with the world.”
The First Wave is currently finishing its film festival circuit, looking to close DOC NYC at Beacon Theater. The film with open in theaters on November 19. You can watch the trailer for The First Wave below: