Tonight, a Journey “Inside Italy’s COVID War”


May 19, 2020

As the world has faced the coronavirus pandemic over the past several months, much of the suffering has taken place beyond the view of news cameras — in besieged hospital units closed to visitors, where doctors and nurses try to save the lives of patients battling COVID-19 without contracting the highly infectious disease themselves.

Tonight, we’re proud to present a new documentary that takes you behind those closed doors.

Inside Italy’s COVID War, filmed inside Cremona Hospital at the height of Italy’s coronavirus crisis, follows senior ER doctor Francesca Mangiatordi, her staff and their patients as they battle COVID-19 in a region that’s at the epicenter of the country’s outbreak.

“I believe it’s an unfair battle. We have few weapons. The virus has them all. But with the few we have, we are trying to resist and fight back,” Dr. Mangiatordi says.

Tonight’s documentary was directed by award-winning filmmaker Sasha Joelle Achilli, who was born and raised in northern Italy and returned there to document the coronavirus fight. She’s no stranger to covering infectious disease epidemics, having previously chronicled the worst Ebola outbreak on record for us.

Through her lens, we watch as the volume of coronavirus cases becomes unmanageable, as Dr. Mangiatordi and her colleagues are forced to make life-and-death decisions about who to admit, and as younger and younger patients fall ill.

From an 18-year-old boy who is intubated and fighting for his life, to a nurse who sings to patients on ventilators in an attempt to comfort them, to a 30-year-old mother of three young girls who begs a nurse to tell her the truth about her odds, this is a truly rare and special documentary that reveals unforgettable moments from inside a hospital on the front lines of a pandemic. The scenes of heartbreak, heroism and hard decisions that Sasha captured illuminate this disease’s toll on both patients and health care providers. Their stories will stay with me for a long time — and I believe they will stay with you, too.

Inside Italy’s COVID War will be available to stream starting tonight at 7/6c at and in the PBS Video App. It will premiere on PBS stations (check local listings) and on YouTube at 10/9c.

I hope that you will watch this rare and remarkable film, and that you will join us on Thursday afternoon for a virtual discussion with both Sasha and Dr. Mangiatordi.

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer and Editor-in-Chief, FRONTLINE



In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

What’s the Status of Healthcare for Women in Afghanistan Under the Taliban?
Before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, many women and girls were already struggling to receive adequate healthcare. A year later, the situation has worsened, sources told FRONTLINE.
August 9, 2022
‘Say to the Whole World, They Don’t Let Us Talk’: Women Held for ‘Immoral Behavior’ at a Taliban Prison Speak Out
In the FRONTLINE documentary ‘Afghanistan Undercover,’ Ramita Navai reports the Taliban has jailed women for ‘immoral behavior’ and held them without trial. Watch an excerpt.
August 9, 2022
The Disconnect: Power, Politics and the Texas Blackout
In February 2021, days-long blackouts in Texas left millions shivering in the dark. Hundreds died. How has the Texas grid changed since then? And how has it changed how people think?
August 4, 2022
'You Feel Safe One Second and Then Boom': A Conversation With the Filmmakers of 'Ukraine: Life Under Russia's Attack'
The filmmakers of "Ukraine: Life Under Russia's Attack" spoke about documenting life under bombardment and why they felt it was important to bring this story to an American audience.
August 2, 2022