National Geographic Documentary Films has nabbed The First Wave, a new feature documentary from Participant and Our Time Projects.
The film is directed and produced by Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts), along with producers Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville.
The filmmakers were granted exclusive access into one of New York City’s hardest-hit hospitals during the first wave that ravaged the city from March through June 2020. Through Heineman’s signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, The First Wave documents those harrowing first four months, embedding with a group of brave healthcare workers at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens as they risked their lives in the epic battle to keep the virus at bay.
“As we battle through the pandemic, we hope Matt’s powerful, deeply humanistic film will serve as a historical record of our collective struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds and also provide some much-needed catharsis as we start to feel a little more hopeful about the future,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president, global scripted content and documentary films, for National Geographic.
“I feel deeply honored that I had the opportunity to document—through our subjects over four terrifying months—the impact of this pandemic. It has forced us to question everything, the fragility of our lives, and the way we live,” said Heineman. “The film explores every aspect of the human condition—-fear and courage, death and birth, and the inescapable weight of trauma, both the kind that is deeply held and also newly experienced. I hope this film will be a testament to the power of the human spirit when faced with one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered.”
The First Wave is executive produced by Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann, Alex Gibney, Leah Natasha Thomas, Maiken Baird, David Fialkow and Joedan Okun. For National Geographic Documentary Films, executive producers are Carolyn Bernstein and Ryan Harrington.
NEON will release the film in theaters later this year prior to a broadcast premiere on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages worldwide.