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

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE



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