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76-day interview with director Hao Wu and producer Jean Tsien – Contenders TV – Deadline

There are many poignant moments in 76 days, Hao Wu’s moving documentary about medical workers in Wuhan, China, and the patients they treated when the city was closed last year due to Covid-19.

For producer Jean Tsien, a moment in particular stands out.

“The first scene … with the nurse [who] lost his father… It hit me so hard, ”Tsien said at Deadline Television’s Contenders: Documentary + Unscripted Awards-season event. “Whoever says goodbye to your loved one and sees… the father is five feet away and you can’t even say goodbye to him. It was the most heartbreaking scene I have ever seen in my entire career.

Wu, who is based in New York, was visiting Shanghai when the lockdown sealed Wuhan. He was not allowed to enter Wuhan himself, so he looked for potential partners there who could capture what was going on.

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“The first thing I did was contact the filmmakers and journalists who had started covering the lockdown in Wuhan… I was introduced to over a dozen filmmakers filming in the field. This is how I met my two possible collaborators, ”Wu said during the virtual panel. “As soon as I saw the footage of these two filmmakers, I was immediately shaken because I feel like there is so much raw emotional power in their footage that it transported me to the eye of the storm.

Wu’s original intention was to make an investigative film about the pandemic outbreak and what went wrong in China. But he said watching countries around the world struggle to deal with the novel coronavirus had convinced him that another approach was in order – a purely observational one.

“I think we really need to value the uniqueness of the images we have access to and try to tell the story through our images,” he recalls thinking, “rather than trying to impose a political dimension on it. narration.”

A distributor came early to support the film, then dropped out. MTV Documentary Films stepped in later, seeing the importance of the project. Their belief was validated when 76 days won several awards and a place in the Oscar documentary shortlist.

Tsien, too, kept the faith through the thickets. She said, “I just knew the story had to be told.”

Check back on Monday for the panel video.

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