National Geographic Documentary Films has picked up Matthew Heineman’s COVID-19 documentary The First Wave from Participant and Our Time Projects.
Heineman directed and produced the feature film about frontline workers at one of New York City’s hardest-hit hospitals, Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, during the first four months of the pandemic last year. Neon will release the film from the Cartel Land and City of Ghosts director in theaters later this year before a broadcast premiere on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages worldwide.
The First Wave is also produced by Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville, while the executive producer credits are shared by Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann, Alex Gibney, Leah Natasha Thomas, Maiken Baird, David Fialkow, Pagan Harleman and Joedan Okun.
Using Heineman’s character-driven cinema vérité documentary style, The First Wave documents the earliest stages of the pandemic as frontline workers attempt to keep the virus at bay both inside and outside the New York City hospital.
“As we battle through the pandemic, we hope Matt’s powerful, deeply humanistic film will serve as a historical record of our collective struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds and also provide some much-needed catharsis as we start to feel a little more hopeful about the future,” Carolyn Bernstein, executive vp global scripted content and documentary films for National Geographic, said in a statement.
Heineman is repped by CAA and Cinetic Media. The distribution deal was negotiated by Cinetic Media, Gabriel Brakin and Danice Woodley for Participant, and Tiffany LeClere on behalf of National Geographic Partners.