West Hollywood, CA — Today I had the honor of attending the screening of the new documentary “The First Wave” by filmmaker Matthew Heineman. This was a beautiful event held at the London West Hollywood Screening Room hosted by the world-renowned agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
This documentary takes place over four months at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and gives us a look at what was happening in the hospitals on the front lines as health care workers battled the invisible enemy of Covid-19. The First Wave follows the doctors, nurses, and patients of Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) in Queens as they struggle to deal with the overwhelming influx of patients at the first surge hit.
The First Wave is unsettling, eye-opening, and heartbreaking as we see covid patients fight for their lives and the physicians fight to maintain their strength and sanity in what they had claimed felt like and looked like was a war zone. The beautiful thing about this film though is how inspiring it is to be able to see how people will come together in times of uncertainty and the absolute strength, drive, and pure love these healthcare workers have for each other and the people they take care of.
While the fight against Covid-19 was being documented inside the hospitals, outside on the streets Heinemann covers the murder of George Floyd. He documented how the city came to civil unrest with protests as people fought to use their voices against the constant battle against racism in America. Heinemann chronicles this in the film as he noticed the majority of people hospitalized were people of color and stated it did not feel right to document the epidemic of covid as it felt intrinsically tied to the issue of racial disparity in this country.
After the screening, we had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Heinemann and two physicians from the film, Dr. Nathalie Douge and Carl, a physical therapist who helps patients physically recover from being in hospital for extended periods of time. Everyone expressed how they wanted to be a part of this film to show people the truth of what was happening inside the hospitals and to take part in sharing their stories with the world.
When asked what they hope people would take away from watching The First Wave, Heinemann stated he hopes everyone takes away something different but to find hope in the human connection and love shared between people that he was able to capture. Dr. Douge stated she hopes people will see what has happened, both inside and outside of the hospitals, and start holding themselves accountable.
The First Wave is a harrowing documentary and is sure to leave you with an impression of loss and hope you will never forget.