Filmed in 21 countries and featuring extensive personal video and local footage, this documentary special from award-winning filmmaker James Bluemel (Exodus, Exodus: The Journey Continues, Once Upon a Time in Iraq) traces the pandemic’s path around the globe through the stories of people experiencing it, showing how responses to the disease that has now killed more than 3 million people have differed across culture, race, faith and privilege.
“What COVID-19 did was reveal what kind of society we are,” says Carlos Vladimir Rodriguez Valencia IV, who works for the mayor’s office in Bogota, Colombia, and has spent the pandemic distributing food to people in need. “It showed the level of poverty. And brought many things to the surface. The people’s anger. The lack of opportunities. The lack of trust towards institutions. Now, it’s all been intensified by COVID.”
Over the course of two nights, from lockdowns to funerals to protests, The Virus That Shook the World shares intimate and unforgettable glimpses into how the pandemic has played out in the lives, homes and communities of people around the world. We meet a doctor in the United Kingdom who works at what would become the first hospital in the world to administer a COVID-19 vaccine; she is still haunted by the memory of the first patient she treated who died from the disease.
“I went from having an incredible conversation with a lovely, lovely individual, and within two hours, she’d been transferred to the intensive care unit. She was intubated, she was ventilated and she died,” says Dr. Amie Burbridge. “And I did absolutely nothing to help her, apart from giving false hope to her and her family: ‘Oh, it’s absolutely fine; we’ll give her some oxygen; you’ll be fine.’”
By juxtaposing the experiences of different people all around the world throughout the first year of the pandemic, The Virus That Shook the World offers a uniquely panoramic view of how the coronavirus has created ripples of profound loss, restructured how people across the world live their lives, and amplified existing inequities.