The official trailer debuted for The First Wave, a new documentary on the COVID-19 pandemic from Oscar-nominated and multiple Emmy award-winning director Matthew Heineman. The film has already won several awards on the film festival circuit, most recently the David Carr Award at the Montclair Film Festival, which honors a film exemplifying a commitment to “truth-telling in reporting.” The First Wave will close DOC NYC with a gala screening at the Beacon Theater before opening in theaters on November 19.
With exclusive access inside Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of New York’s hardest-hit hospitals during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, director Matthew Heineman’s The First Wave spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. Leaving a devastating trail of death and despair, this once-in-a-century pandemic changed the very fabric of our daily lives and exposed long-standing inequities in our society.
Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman follows a group of doctors, nurses and patients on the frontlines as they all desperately try to navigate the crisis, including Dr. Nathalie Dougé and ICU Nurse Kellie Wunsch, who put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others, and COVID-19 patients Ahmed Ellis and Brussels Jabon, who were simply fighting to survive. Each distinct storyline in The First Wave serves as a microcosm through which we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic.
“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,” said Heineman. “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.”
Heineman is an Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker known for his sophisticated and immersive style. Heineman received a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First Time Feature Film Director from the Directors Guild of America for his narrative debut “A Private War” — making Heineman and Martin Scorsese the only filmmakers ever nominated for both narrative and documentary DGA Awards. He previously directed the documentary “Cartel Land,” which was nominated for an Academy Award and won three Primetime Emmy Awards and a DGA Award; “City of Ghosts” for which he won a DGA Award; and the docuseries “The Trade,” which just won two Emmys and was honored by the International Documentary Association as the Best Episodic Series of 2018. Heineman most recently directed and produced HBO’s “Tiger,” a two-part documentary on the legendary Tiger Woods, and “The Boy From Medellín,” chronicling the life of global superstar J. Balvin over a pivotal week in his life. Up next, he is set to write and direct “Paradise,” a narrative adaptation of the true events of the 2018 Paradise Fire.
Watch the official trailer for The First Wave.