A brief movie offers a putting look inside Wuhan’s coronavirus lockdown

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A city with no one in it.

A very empty road.
Image: Lan Bo/Sixth Tone

Since the coronavirus outbreak started in December, reactions within the Western Hemisphere have ranged from confused to flippant (jokes about Corona beer) to racist and xenophobic (the severe drop in business in Chinatowns all over the U.S.). In half, it’s been a symptom of simply how distant the outbreak feels — although there are not less than a thousand confirmed cases worldwide, more than 74,000 have been infected in mainland China (killing greater than 2,000 folks), and stories have typically centered on much less human features in favor of the outbreak’s effects on the Chinese film industry. A brand new quick documentary movie, Wuhan: The Long Night, appears primed to correctly convey the magnitude of what’s taking place.

Filmmaker Lan Bo initially went to the town of Wuhan to shoot a characteristic movie. The lockdown to attempt to comprise the virus, which occurred on January 23, meant the crew had been compelled to vary their plans. Stranded in Wuhan, they determined to make use of their time and efforts to doc what was taking place round them.

The ensuing quick, which took off on the Chinese platform Weibo earlier than crossing over to Western social media (and is available to watch online), gives an actual have a look at Wuhan for the reason that metropolis was successfully lower off from the remainder of the world. Though Wuhan boasts a inhabitants of 14 million folks, the cellphone footage captured by Lan and his crew is of a ghost city. Few, if any, folks roam the town, the streets and highways are nearly fully abandoned, and, within the quick’s most putting sequence, a person leans out of his window onto an empty road, singing “My Motherland and Me.”

“They want to do something meaningful,” Lan said. “Since the lockdown, there hasn’t been a video presenting such a panoramic view […] I feel that these are going to be valuable images for historical reference and for other documentaries.”

Spurred on by the success of the quick, Lan plans to make a feature-length documentary about Wuhan in lockdown, specializing in how the folks remaining within the metropolis have been affected.