Directed by Matthew Heineman, The First Wave chronicles the early days of the pandemic with a focus on Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. New York was one of the hardest hit during the first wave and became the epicenter of this deadly pandemic. This documentary shows ER doctors and nurses in action, trying to save lives, trying to rehabilitate or trying to let go when all other options were exhausted. Two particularly bad COVID cases, that of Ahmed and Brussels, are spotlighted giving viewers painful but necessary insight into what critical COVID patients face in the ICU.
I’ve watched a lot of news coverage and plenty of documentaries about the disastrous effects COVID-19 had on our nation and on the world. None of that prepared me for The First Wave which left me an emotional wreck. I was particularly struck with Ahmed’s story and was rooting for him every step of the way. I can see this film being screened for the public with audience members crying and applauding at different poignant moments. The documentary also touches upon the murder of George Floyd, the subsequent protests and also includes footage of then New York governor Cuomo.
This is an emotional film that serves as a reminder just how truly awful those first months of the pandemic truly were.
The First Wave was part of the 2021 Double Exposure Film Festival.
The First Wave is distributed by Neon.