Convergence: Courage in a Crisis (2021) ☆☆☆(3/4): People working on the front line against COVID-19

Latest Netflix documentary film “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis”, which is released today, is a modest but engaging assembly of personal narratives observed around the world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As busily shuffling around its multiple narratives, the documentary chillingly reminds us again of how much our world has been turned upside down since early 2020, and it will also show us how much millions of medical professionals and social workers are still fighting for us on their risky front line against COVID-19 even at this point.

When the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China was reported around the beginning of 2020, many of us simply regarded it as another usual flu epidemic. Of course, things soon became quite more serious than expected in Wuhan as well as the rest of the world, and a part shot by a local video blogger named Wenhau Lin gives us a close look into Wuhan during its following lockdown period just like other recent notable COVID-19 documentaries “76 Days” (2020) and “In the Same Breath” (2021). As Lin works as a volunteer driver for those hospital workers, we often see how the situation in the city gets worse day by day, and we notice how cautious Lin and many others are for avoiding infection as much as possible. They are the only ones between many citizens of Wuhan and COVID-19, and all they can do for now is preventing more infection in addition to handling numerous cases of infection here and there in the city.

Once the COVID-19 virus got spread outside China mainly thanks to many of those incompetent politicians around the word, the rest of the world was soon tumbled into the same emergency. Hassan Akkad, a Syrian refugee who recently settled in UK and then got employed in a local hospital shortly after the lockdown period, presents the daily record of what he and other hospital employees did everyday. Many of them are immigrants, and they are willing to do their best in their respective positions, but the British government does not treat them that well later just because they are non-professional employees. That leads to one angry video clip made by Akkad, which, to the surprise of him and his colleagues, goes viral on the Internet and also results in some significant change for them in public.

In case of Dr. Armen Henderson at the University of Miami Health System in Miami, US, he has been dedicated himself a lot to several social causes since the pandemic came upon his city. While he works at a local hospital during nighttime, he also does a number of social activities for many homeless people in a poor neighborhood of Miami during daytime. As many of you know, those poor homeless people are the most vulnerable persons to the pandemic, and Dr. Henderson has tried as hard as he can for helping them, but he cannot help but frustrated with the systemic racism of his society. At one point, we see a video clip showing his infuriating case of social injustice, and that certainly daunted him a lot for an understandable reason, but he has kept fighting as before because he cannot possibly stop in his dogged pursuit of justice and equality.

The part unfolded within a slum area of São Paulo, Brazil, introduces us to a woman named Renata Alves, and some of the most touching parts in the documentary come from her considerable personal dedication to her poor neighbors out there. Although there was some dark time in her past, she subsequently moved onto the next chapter of her life as helping and supporting others around her, and we often see her guiding an ambulance along the alleys and streets of her slum neighborhood.

In case of a hospital in Lima, Peru, we meet a middle-aged physician named Dr. Rosa Luz López, and we observe how her hospital is often overwhelmed by many COVID-19 patients just like thousands of hospitals around the world. At one point, we see a ward filled with several patients who were actually working there as doctors, and even Dr. López, who has managed to keep her spirit high as taking care of a lot of patients including a 15-year-old boy under a very critical condition, turns out to be not so safe from COVID-19 as shown from one moment.

The documentary also shows us how things got worse also in India and Iran, respectively. In case of Iranian couple Sara Khaki and Mohammad Reza Eyni, they were not particularly concerned at the beginning of the lockdown, but they began to hear about the death of some of people close to them, and they were naturally devastated by that. In India, we meet a couple anxiously expecting the birth of their baby, and they are quite concerned in front of the possibility of their child getting infected before coming into the world, but, to their relief, the baby turns out to be as healthy as they hoped.

As the global human community kept getting more devastated by the pandemic, the need of vaccines became more urgent, and the documentary pays some attention to the collective efforts on developing vaccines. Fortunately, thanks to the global professional collaborations around the world, several effective vaccine products were developed and then tested within a short period, and I am one of millions of people benefiting from that right now (I will get the second shot of Pfizer vaccine on next Monday, by the way).

Overall, “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis” did a fairly good job of conveying to us the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on personal levels, and director Orlando von Einsiedel skillfully juggles various elements provided by a bunch of his co-directors. Although I must point out that its narrative tapestry often feels rather scattershot, and this is still another interesting documentary of the COVID-19 era, and you will surely appreciate the ongoing public efforts of many medical professionals and social workers out there.

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