As China continues to battle COVID-19, television crews are stepping in to document the lives of the common people at the center of the epidemic, with a new documentary series called “In Wuhan” premiering Wednesday on streaming site Bilibili.
Co-produced by Bilibili, state broadcaster China Central Television, and production crew FigureVideo, the documentary is slated to air weekly online, with eight episodes focusing on different groups of people based in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The first episode, “Lifeline on Wheels,” profiles the volunteer drivers who have been helping transport medical supplies to hospitals and households, and as well as shuttle medical workers between hospitals, since Wuhan went under lockdown on Jan. 23, with all public transportation in the city suspended.
In the first episode, volunteer drivers are seen wearing goggles, gloves, and full hazmat suits while on the road. Daxiang, the organizer of a local volunteer team, is in charge of distributing medical supplies to hospitals and homes. When one of the volunteers on his team falls ill, he sends her groceries, and can be seen breaking down in tears as she gives him a weak wave goodbye from a safe distance.
Li Shaoyun — a single mother who became something of a local celebrity in 2017 after domestic media drew attention to the fact that she couldn’t afford a babysitter for her daughter, and so had to drive her around in the back seat of her taxi on long shifts — also appeared in the first episode of the show, as a volunteer who helped match drivers with people who needed various items “ordered” through online chat groups. Li had made headlines earlier this year after she was brutally attacked over a parking dispute by a man wielding an iron bar.
“There will come a day when the epidemic goes away, but the emotions and memories during these days will not fade away,” the production crew wrote in a post published on microblogging platform Weibo.
The documentary series’ debut episode has been well-received on Weibo, with many users saying they were touched by the selfless efforts of the people of Wuhan, as well as the way in which their stories were presented.
“I like this kind of show that isn’t deliberately sensational or too over-the-top, and only uses the simplest lens to record the lives of common Wuhan people fighting against the epidemic,” one Weibo user commented, adding that they were touched “when the woman who delivers free vegetables to residential communities suddenly said, ‘I haven’t been close to my child for three or four days.’”
Many people have also left encouraging comments under the video on Bilibili, with the most upvoted message wishing that this epidemic will be the country’s last. “I hope there won’t be any more documentaries about this kind of subject in the future,” the user wrote.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: A promotional graphic for the documentary series “In Wuhan,” now streaming on Bilibili. From @哔哩哔哩纪录片 on Weibo)