The long night

A film crew trapped in Wuhan documents life in a city under lockdown
Current affairs | 20 February 2020

After visiting Wuhan at the beginning of January with the aim of shooting a feature film, a film crew found themselves trapped in the city once it was officially placed under lockdown on 23rd January in an effort to contain the coronavirus. Twice the size of London, this provincial capital and once-bustling transportation hub has since been reduced to standstill, with virtually zero sign of life on the six-lane roads that carve up the city.

Since the virus began making headlines, the focus of reports has largely concentrated on rates of infection and the experience of foreign nationals, with little to no street-level insight into its impact on daily life or the thousands of health care workers and volunteers risking their lives to try and contain the spread of infection. So far, the virus has killed more than 1,700 people in China, with over 70,000 people infected worldwide.

Given China’s draconian state censorship, perhaps the relative lack of reportage should come as little surprise, but now, courtesy of the country’s Weibo social media platform, a view inside the city where the outbreak originated has gone viral.

Following the film crews break in production, they turned their attention to the situation around them, resulting in a chilling film that documents the post-apocalyptic effects of the virus. Wuhan: The Long Night is directed by Lan Bo with Xie Dan acting as cinematographer. Though much of the footage is captured on mobile phones, like so much of the livestreaming that has so far emerged, the success of the short film has encouraged its director to make a feature length documentary. Speaking to Sixth Tone, its director Bo said, “I hope people can tell the truth, that they can face the camera honestly… I hope my camera will not lie.”

Watch the full film here.


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