“Somewhere there is a light at the end of this tunnel. We have to believe it. Let’s hope for the dawn to break.”
Those are the words uttered by Dr Yanila Nyasulu, specialist physician and a central figure in the riveting new documentary Zero to Zero, which will broadcast exclusively to DStv Premium on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on 4 October at 20:30.
Filmed over 15 months, the gripping one-hour doc offers an unfiltered look at what it’s like to be a healthcare worker in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. It follows the staff of Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital (ZAH), a 100-year-old, private, non-profit hospital in Muckleneuk, Pretoria, from the moment they admit their first Covid-19 patient in June 2020.
Gripping and emotional – at parts intense yet also hopeful – what makes Zero to Zero especially stand out is that it’s filmed by a frontline worker at the hospital, radiologist and part time filmmaker Prof Leonie Scholtz. She co-directed the film with Christa Lategan and Shem Compion.
“What’s special about Zero to Zero is that it is told from the perspectives of those who have been battling this pandemic daily since it began. It humanises the frontline workers, showing us a fraction of what they have had to face,” says Jan du Plessis, Director for M-Net Channels.
“It also puts faces to some of the Covid-19 stats – there are interviews with former patients about their experiences at the hospital, as well as with their families about the impact that this has had on them,” du Plessis concludes.
About why she began filming the hospital’s fight against Covid-19, Prof Leonie Scholtz says in the documentary: “When the pandemic started, I immediately realised that this is one catastrophic event where no photographers were allowed. Being a photographer myself, and also having access to the inner sanctum of the frontline, I felt obliged to document it.”
Filming the events as they unfolded presented a challenge for the team, as they had no idea how the story would unfold. “We dealt with people going through real life and death situations, so our focus remained on the human spirit. The constant changing narrative was immensely difficult, but the personal journeys delivered a wonderful and authentic story,” says Producer, Christa Lategan.
What results is an incredible film that gives us a glimpse of the toll the pandemic has had on healthcare and frontline workers, emotionally, mentally and physically. With some narration by actress Jana Cilliers (Die Boekklub, Egoli), Zero to Zero also features interviews with various experts, including celebrated epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim.
With unprecedented access to the hospital frontline, this story narrates what unfolded during the darkest moments of the Covid peaks. The unequalled footage from ICU and beyond tells a story of despair and hope.
This film will inspire viewers to remember the strength of the human spirit, but filmmakers and the healthcare workers also hope to drive home another key message: Protect yourself and the ones you love by wearing your mask, washing your hands, keeping a safe distance, and getting vaccinated.
“Fighting every day for everyone’s tomorrow”. Zero to Zero is produced by Legacy Hill Productions. Catch the documentary on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Monday, 4 October at 20:30. Visit the M-Net Website for exclusive show content and join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #ZerotoZero and #mnet101.