The film is, he says, “apolitical”. There’s no voiceover narration, no interviews, no attempt to point the finger of blame for cover-ups or systemic failures in the way the epidemic was handled in those early days. Instead, the camera is a seemingly dispassionate observer of what happened in four hospitals during the lockdown of the city of 11 million people from January 23 to April 8 last year.
“I’ve done films in the past that got me into bigger trouble,” says Wu. “My past film, People’s Republic of Desire, was about live-streaming internet celebrities but I couldn’t get it approved by the censors because they disliked the lifestyle and values they represent.”