THE FIRST WAVE Documentaries Virtual Screenings


Talent attending in-person screening: Matthew Heineman (director/producer), Jenna Millman (producer), Leslie Norville (producer), Dr. Nathalie Dougé (subject), Ahmed Ellis (subject), Alexis Ellis (subject), Karl Arabian (subject), Brussels Jabon (subject), Naph Jabon (subject).

“Every day we look death right in its eye. And the scary part is it looks right back at you.”

In early 2020, New York City is the number one hotspot for COVID-19 in the United States and has more cases than entire countries. On the hospital frontlines with doctors, nurses, patients and hopeful families, Academy Award®-nominated documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman takes a poignant look at the unforeseen turmoil of this novel health crisis. For these first four months of the pandemic, resilient recoveries and tearful reunions occur and last words to loved ones are spoken. With immediate access, the film portrays the disproportionate effect of the virus on communities of color, civil unrest sparked from the murder of George Floyd and eventually the emergence from lockdown. –Julia Kipnis

Matthew Heineman is an Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award®-winning director and producer. He is known for his films A PRIVATE WAR (2018), CITY OF GHOSTS (2017) and CARTEL LAND (2015). His 2021 documentary, THE FIRST WAVE, premiered at the Hamptons Film Festival this year.

Felicia Wong
National Geographic
[email protected]


Country: USA

Year: 2021

Director: Matthew Heineman

Producers: Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman, Leslie Norville

Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Carolyn Bernstein, Ryan Harrington, Maiken Baird, Alex Gibney, Leah Thomas, David Fialkow, Pagan Harleman, Joedan Okun

Directors of Photography: Ross McDonnell, Thorsten Thielow, Brian Dawson, Matthew Heineman, Alex Pritz

Editors: Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes, David Zieff

Music: H. Scott Salinas, Jon Batiste

Running Time (minutes): 93

Language: English