Special Invitation Film
Wuhan, I Am Here
CHINA / 2021 / Chinese / Color / Digital File / 153 min
Director: Lan Bo
Photography: Xie Dan, Fu Shiqiang
Editing: Wang Yao, Wang Lei
Music: Luka, Xiao Ying
Sound Editing: Luka, Long Fei
Scripter: Jiang Jiawei
Colorist: Liu Liangxiong
Line Producer: Ge Yifeng
Producer: Archibald Pei
Source: Archibald Pei
January 2020—Director Lan Bo and crew enter Wuhan to shoot a feature film. With the city suddenly sealed off, they go out into the streets and begin filming. As the medical system starts to become strained, the elderly and the seriously ill are unable to receive necessary treatment, even though they have not contracted the virus. The crew get involved in volunteer activities to provide free supplies, and learn about the elderly households, welfare facilities, and those living on the streets unable to obtain provisions because of the lockdown. They throw themselves into helping out as they film what they see. Daily life changed at its very roots by infectious disease—the film shines light on the circumstances that spread throughout the world beginning in 2020. YIDFF 2021 is its world premiere.
[Director’s Statement] Right before the COVID outbreak in early 2020, I was preparing for a drama film in Wuhan, with my crew. Suddenly, the city was locked down. We lacked almost everything and lived on instant noodles. Our photographer shot street scenes wearing our only N95 mask; he had to dry it over a fire at night.
We were keen to do something for our home, since most of us were Hubei natives. We first made a short video called Watch on the Empty City, which generated great attention on Chinese social media. Thanks to it, we received much help from volunteers and charities.
Therefore, I realized the possibility of shooting a feature documentary: we worked together with local volunteers to help people, and recorded the process with our cameras.
I gave up the idea of shooting a hospital or community, because all of them were under strict control during the pandemic. I believed that “volunteers and citizens” was a stronger theme. The daily lives of common citizens was greatly impacted by the pandemic, but they were hardly noticed by anyone.
“Recording a windstorm at its fringes” thus became my core idea, and the backbone of the 100-day shooting of Wuhan, I Am Here.
I adopted advice from two friends: use the actions of our film crew as a mainline to integrate other people and events. That is how the video materials were organized.
We worked together with civil volunteers on the Wuhan frontline, using social media to communicate with others, both in and outside Wuhan, to overcome our isolated status and bring assistance to non-COVID patients, the elderly, the homeless and children. We record all the events not only as a historical document, but also as an example as to how to help the most vulnerable in such circumstances.
Lan Bo is a film critic who has written numerous number of columns for film magazines, websites and social media in China. He used to work for TV network and video platforms, either as documentary director or as journalist. He is the editor of the TV documentary Chinese Peasant-Workers in Israel (2004). From 2009 on, he has been working on film editing and screenwriting. Wuhan, I Am Here is the first feature film he has directed. Now he is planning for his next feature, a drama film with time and memory as its themes.