It’s a plot we know well. Under Full Control ranks the Federal Administration’s mistakes in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. They range from constant denial to a high death toll. Chloroquine appears between the politicization of the tragedy and the lack of respirators and masks – and the government itself is campaigning for the drug. The lockdown is being combated with the justification of the dichotomy between economy and health. There is a teacher who doesn’t say anything, but a lot of people clap for him. And there is even an election on the horizon, which seems to guide most of the protagonist’s decisions.
But history had its effect: Trump lost.
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It was broadcast this Saturday (4/10), at 7 pm, in one free online session, to the “É Tudo Verdade” documentary film festival, and it shows “Under Total Control” how the US has surpassed 560,000 death records by the Covid-19 number Standard in the world. The movie retraces the course of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in the country, focusing on the decisions of then-President Donald Trump. To get there, directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger used interviews, archival videos, and narration, and even developed a special camera set that allowed them to shoot safely during times of the pandemic.
Brazil is only mentioned briefly, when other countries where the disease has spread rapidly at the time the documentary is completed, in the third quarter of 2020, and the famous aerial scene of open graves in the cemetery of Villa Formosa, in São Paulo, is shown. But Brazil has not yet become the epicenter of the epidemic in the world as it is today, with days surpassing 4,000 deaths and more than 345,000 records of deaths in total. It is the second country with the largest number of lives lost due to Covid-19, after only the United States.
A lot of people compare Bolsonaro to Trump, and it seems to me that their response to the pandemic has been very similar – says Ophelia Harutyunyan, in a phone interview. They both use fake news to discredit the media and suggest people not to listen to what the science has to say. When a boss says he doesn’t know if he’s going to get the vaccine, he’s sending a message to people. Had he acted differently, lives would have been saved
Among the many errors that were highlighted, “under complete control” indicates that the first test established in the United States to detect the Coronavirus was sent to defective laboratories, delaying comprehensive testing for the disease by about a month. He says that the task force set up to combat the pandemic, led by then-health minister Alex Azar and then Vice President Mike Pence, had more than twice as many politicians and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry as scientists.
The movie also indicates that the lack of coordination between the federal government and the states has caused the prices of medical equipment to skyrocket. A symbolic interview was used from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: “It’s like being on eBay with other countries bidding for ventilators. Suddenly it appears that as the bids go in. The price is increasing.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a government agency that works in crises, disasters and other national emergencies.
We live in the New York area, so we’re having the worst days of the epidemic here. We saw how deaths increased, how there were no vacancies in hospitals, and how sirens sounded all day carrying the sick – Ophelia recalls. And it was very clear that the government’s response was not the best, so we felt the need to understand what had been done wrong.
It is clear that the release date for “Under Total Control” was not chosen in the currency, especially in election year. The election, in which Republican Trump tried a new term and was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden, took place on November 3. The documentary premiered in the US on streaming services on October 13th, three weeks ago, just in time to watch it, recommend it to your family’s “zap” group and think a little bit about voting.
And it is not at all uncommon for cinema to serve as a precinct in a country where the supporting actor was once president and even reelected – after learning that Ronald Reagan would run for the California government in 1966, Jack Warner, the studio owner with, said, “No, No. It’s James Stewart on the ruler, and Reagan is his best friend. ”
Gibney, a prolific documentary filmmaker and Oscar winner for his approach to “A taxi in the dark” (2007), is well aware of the impact cinema can have on an audience. So much so, that it also made its debut on HBO, a few weeks before the 2020 election, the documentary “Agents of Chaos”, in which it investigates Russia’s interference in Trump’s 2016 victory.
From the start, our desire was to show “under complete control” before the elections. People had a right to know so they could choose better – Ophelia says. We went to the White House and government health agencies for interviews, but they never responded. We know the government has silenced a lot of people. People were afraid of taking revenge on them. We needed to show this before the election. I hope Brazilians will have the same opportunity to understand how their government is behaving.