In the Same Breath

A look at how the Chinese government turned pandemic cover-ups in Wuhan into a triumph for the Communist Party.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), In the Same Breath recounts the experiences of people on the ground in the earliest days of the novel coronavirus and the way two countries dealt with its initial spread, from the first days of the outbreak in Wuhan to its rampage across the United States.

The documentary film, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, explores the early confusion and parallel campaigns by authorities to try to contain the virus as well as shape the public narrative through misinformation, resulting in a devastating impact on citizens of both countries.

Filmmaker Wang celebrates the Chinese New Year in her hometown about 200 miles outside Wuhan and then returns to the United States just as the first news reports about a dangerous new coronavirus start to surface. Working from the U.S., Wang's adoptive country, she hears troubling reports coming out of the region via social media and tasks local videographers in Wuhan to capture the early days of the virus’s effects on the ground. Wang records wrenching audio testimonials from family members in China who have lost loved ones and she profiles several families in Wuhan struggling to come to terms with how quickly the virus took hold of their city and buckled an unprepared and overwhelmed health care system – foreshadowing what was soon to come in the U.S.

With emotional first-hand accounts from medical professionals, patients, and grieving family members, and startling, on-the-ground footage from both Wuhan and the U.S., In The Same Breath is a revelatory illustration of the devastating toll that resulted from official missteps at containment of the infection and the widespread phenomenon of social media misinformation, while also highlighting the strength and resilience of the people who risked everything to communicate the truth.

In the Same Breath is produced and directed by Nanfu Wang; produced by Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, and Carolyn Hepburn.

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