‘The First Wave’ Trailer: Matthew Heineman’s NatGeo Documentary Chronicles Covid Pandemic’s Impact On America

EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Documentary Films, Neon and Participant have dropped the trailer for The First Wave, the latest film from Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning director Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, A Private War). Heineman produced the feature-length doc under his Our Time Projects banner alongside producers Jenna Millman (The Boy From Medellín) and Leslie Norville (A Ballerina’s Tale).

It will hit theaters November 19 after a festival run that began with its world premiere opening of the Hamptons Film Festival; it has since played London and elsewhere and is set as the closing film for DOC NYC.

The First Wave follows a group of doctors, nurses and patients who were on the pandemic frontlines as they desperately try to navigate the crisis. Among those are Dr. Nathalie Dougé and ICU nurse Kellie Wunsch, who put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others, and Covid-19 patients Ahmed Ellis and Brussels Jabon, who were simply fighting to survive.

“I felt a deep responsibility to document this unprecedented moment in time, to put people in the shoes of those who lived it on the front lines,” Heineman says. “There are many things that I hope audiences take away from this film, but for me, it’s a story about how people come together in times of crisis, it’s about resilience, it’s about the power of hope and the strength of the human spirit.”

With exclusive access inside Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of New York’s hardest-hit hospitals during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, Heineman spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of Covid-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the modern world has ever encountered. Each distinct storyline in The First Wave serves as a microcosm through which we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic. 

“Matthew has a unique talent for gripping and deeply intimate filmmaking that reveals the humanity at the heart of every story he tells. We couldn’t think of a more urgent time to share this compelling and inspiring work of art with the world,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of Scripted Content and Documentary Films for National Geographic.

Watch the full trailer above and check out the poster below:

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