AFI Fest Review: “76 Days” is the Universal Story of the Struggle to Manage & Survive During the COVID Pandemic

Hao Wu‘s new documentary “76 Days” is definitely a film of its time — this is cinéma-vérité at its realest. Using the footage of his two co-directors (China-based journalists Weixi Chen and “Anonymous”) who were actually on the ground in Wuhan, Wu tells the story of of the relationship between the medical workers and the patients on the front lines as the city of Wuhan goes into lockdown for 76 days to try and stymie the spread of the virus. The documentary does a superb job of showing the humanity of the people as they confront the unknown — something we don’t see a lot, at least not here in the U.S. where our political leaders vilify and point fingers at the Chinese.

“76 Days”

Oftentimes, “76 Days” is heartbreaking to watch — so see families who are torn apart or lose loved ones in isolation…or to see a first-time mother who has to give birth alone because her husband is not allowed in the hospital room nor is she even able to even touch or hold her new baby girl. Or to see the doctors and nurses — who are doing their absolute best — forget about themselves as they push through mental and physical fatigue to save their patients or at least comfort them in their moments of grief. There is fear, distrust, despair, desperation and even fleeting moments of levity throughout this film. But this is not just a Chinese story of resilience — this is a story that is still unfolding all across the globe as we speak — and it is a story that we should all see.

Sidenote: MTV Documentary Films has acquired the North American rights to film so hopefully you will be able to see it stateside real soon.