Slovak documentarian Tereza Nvotova, who has confronted corruption and politics in previous movies comparable to 2017’s “The Lust for Energy,” discovered herself beached in New York throughout the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring, unable to return legally to her residence in the Czech Republic together with her associate, American actor Jacob Pitts. Then she received an task from public broadcaster Czech TV to movie the metropolis and the way its folks had been faring.
Screening at Ji.hlava Movie Pageant (you’ll be able to watch it right here) as one of a number of docs made throughout the pandemic, every embracing a special perspective and elegance, “New York City in the Time of COVID-19” is a strong, humorous and poignant quick in which Nvotova conscripts her pal Peter to take her out on interviews through bike to keep away from virus-infested public transit.
Earlier than fixing her authorized downside by having an officiator conduct a wedding from his window, she gathers wide-ranging feedback from hospital nurses, paranoid protesters and passers-by, one of whom says the actual hazard is that America elected “a moron” as President.
How did you resolve on the narrative thread to comply with whereas locked up in your house, relying solely on the Web for info because it was morphing?
There was no narrative construction earlier than the shoot aside from my very own curiosity, my very own private life and the issues I received into. I used to be locked at residence for a month, not having the ability to get again to Europe and after I received a name from Czech TV, I felt like I can’t refuse.
I’m a filmmaker and what else am I purported to do in a time of disaster? Then I began to contact anybody I might – by Fb teams, media, my very own contacts. It’s all the time the similar – folks know folks so that you get to the proper ones finally.
What was your response to seeing the numbers of infections and deaths rising whereas no controls had been mandated in New York – understanding the Czech Republic was beneath strict lockdown?
My response was to lock myself at residence earlier than everybody else did. We took lengthy walks in our neighborhood and watched crowded eating places and bars from exterior and felt like we had been watching some apocalyptic film a couple of pandemic being unfold in actual time.
Have been you shocked to see People with out masks calling public well being guidelines fascism? You appear fairly non-judgmental about them in the movie.
I used to be not shocked as a result of earlier than I went there, I watched these reactions on-line. Nevertheless, assembly these folks is all the time one thing totally different. Many of them had been very emotional and hysterical and unable to make an argument clearly. In the movie, I didn’t really feel the have to remark on it as a result of it’s fairly clear given the info and numbers how fallacious they had been.
At what level throughout the movie did you resolve to marry? Was your loved ones upset they couldn’t be there? We don’t actually hear from them on display.
Properly, I had solely 26 minutes. I needed to make an extended film however as a result of this was the take care of Czech TV, I couldn’t. We determined to marry someday throughout the filming. As soon as I used to be capable of get a ticket again residence, we knew Jacob couldn’t go together with me if we weren’t married. I couldn’t go to him in the U.S. both.
The one downside was that the New York marriage workplace was closed for greater than a month. Then they opened an internet workplace in Albany and that’s how we lastly received a wedding license. My household was very completely happy for us plus they know that we’re gonna do another marriage ceremony in Prague as soon as COVID-19 is over.
Now that you just’ve managed to get Jacob to the Czech Republic, what does he suppose of how the COVID-19 disaster is being managed right here?
He got here again with me however in August he flew again to the U.S. Now he’s ready for the elections so he can vote in particular person. He’s coming again to Czech Republic in two weeks and of course he’s not completely happy about the state of affairs right here however, given the worldwide disaster and Czech conduct throughout the summer time, it’s not so stunning.
The bike footage rolling round the metropolis is sort of evocative – nearly like one of the post-Apocalypse sci-fi films of the 70s, what with so many empty streets.
On the bike it was all GoPro – we borrowed the new 360-degree one however then Peter misplaced his job and needed to return it.