“Wuhan Wuhan”; Just like us: Toronto Hot Docs Festival

I will admit throughout this “Wuhan Wuhan” documentary I had a few flashbacks to that smirking ex-President of the United States Trump with his sneering comments about “The Chinese Virus”, “The Wuhan Virus” or “The Kung Flu” directing hatred toward the Chinese trying to deflect from his incompetence in managing COVID-19. Is it any wonder in North America Asian hate crimes are on the rise?

The documentary focuses on both a strained daily lockdown life and the dire situation in Wuhan Hospital # 5 for the most serious COVID-19 cases and the Fangcang Temporary Hospital a convention centre turned into a temporary hospital in February 2020 when case counts were high.

We’ve all heard of the terrible struggles Chinese medical teams facing a disease they knew little about and short of PPE and hospital beds. Be prepared to see many sick people some convinced they would die, a makeshift memorial outside Wuhan Hospital # 5 for frontline workers killed by COVID, bodies placed in body bags, terrified patients yet note the dogged determination of doctors, nurses and psychologists.

One physician confides he had asked his good friend to make sure his daughter is taken care of if he doesn’t “make it”.

Hear one psychologist say all COVID patients need psychological therapy including the psychologists. Watch volunteer hairdressers cut hair of frontline staff to prevent or reduce the chances of an infection and to make PPE more comfortable. See bizarre scenes of COVID patients dancing and doing group exercises. Watch an endless cascade of anxiety and doubt.

But somehow they pull through with their dedication and even a wry sense of humour to the point since June 2020 there have not been any further outbreaks in Wuhan that by official statistics showing there were 50,008 cases with 2,574 deaths.

Then there is the side story of volunteer medical driver Yin and his pregnant Xu showing how everyday life for the Chinese in Wuhan can be so that a simplistic task of buying a crib becomes exceedingly difficult. I can relate to this as it took four months last summer to buy a new fridge! Yin says he can’t stand being in lockdown so his volunteer driving is his therapy.  Xu eventually is rushed to the hospital giving birth to a healthy girl Chuning meaning Peaceful Hubei. Yes life goes on in spite of a pandemic.

Unlike many documentaries this is one where there is an instant connection as we are all going through this pandemic together and like Trump it will be defeated. And it shows yes Chinese are human beings all politics being put aside. The anger many of us felt for the inappropriate comments of a buffoon President must have been amplified in China.

While this is a gripping documentary it is a testament to the courage and determination of front-line workers of Wuhan. But as many of us have been through lockdowns or shelter at home and are sick and tired of COVID this documentary is perhaps one you just can’t handle. I hope you’ll overcome any COVID fatigue you have and go along for a familiar ride but one that occurred in China. The similarities to many cities in North America and Europe are, of course, staring you right in the eye.

The documentary streams virtually from April 29th to May 9th and you can purchase tickets at https://hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival

This 2021 90-minute Chinese, American and Canadian film is in Chinese with English subtitles. Yung Chang is the director and is a Chinese Canadian.

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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