COVID-19 forced innumerable film and television productions to postpone shoots or shut down entirely. But if one was a documentary filmmaker stuck at home with one’s editing software, one might find a way to keep busy.
Toronto-based journalist and filmmaker Adam Benzine—an Oscar nominee for his 2015 documentary short “Lanzmann: Spectres Of The Shoah“—set himself the task of making a movie about the failure of the American government to respond to the crisis.
Benzine initially conceived of The Curve as a short film, hoping to sketch out the early failings of the American response to COVID-19.
“And the reason it became much longer is because the scale of ineptitude from the U.S. government was far beyond anything we could imagine, really,” he says. “The amount of different ways that they got it wrong—it was really quite shocking.”
Explaining that he’s structured the documentary to explore “nine chunks of failure,” Benzine explains that he’s basically made a disaster movie.
“In the first act from January to mid-February, everybody is blissfully going about their lives—we were focused on Prince Harry and Meghan and the impeachment process and the Oscars, and this was just something happening far away. ‘Oh, Asia has another outbreak of some kind,’” he says.
“We’re talking about the Australia wildfires, we’re going about our lives. And unbeknownst to us North Americans, it was already there,” he continues. “The second act is the scene in the movie where scientists in a white lab coat comes running in waving sheets of paper, saying there’s going to be an earthquake, there’s going to be a tidal wave, a meteor is going to hit. And the general with lots of badges and a big cigar says ‘You’re an alarmist liberal scientist, there’s never going to be an earthquake or a tidal wave or a meteor.’”
The second act focuses on all the things the U.S. government could have done in February to prepare, from lockdown to getting PPE and revamping the testing systems. The third act covers mid-March to mid-April—the disaster.
“Suddenly you have a thousand people a day dying,” he says.