Directed by Rehad Desai • Documentary • 2023 • 87 minutes
By the time COVID-19 appeared, South African filmmaker Rehad Desai was all-too-familiar with pandemics. Not only had he previously worked in HIV prevention, he was also in the midst of making a film about a clinical trial for a vaccine that held the promise of ending new AIDS infections.
South Africa’s HIV response was slowed by science-denying politicians, along with global trade rules and corporate pharmaceutical greed that prevented those most in need from getting treatment. In TIME OF PANDEMICS, Desai argues that the world has repeated many of these same mistakes with COVID-19. The all-in-it-together ethos of the pandemic’s early days gave way to rich countries buying up the world’s vaccine doses, while intellectual property laws prevented poorer countries from manufacturing their own. In tracing the history of HIV and COVID-19, TIME OF PANDEMICS provides a broad overview, while also highlighting personal impacts—from the ways our economic system is driving the spread of novel pathogens, to the moving stories of individuals participating in clinical trials, hoping to spare others from pain and loss.
Featuring interviews with scientists and public health activists including Anthony Fauci, TIME OF PANDEMICS is an ambitious, multi-faceted documentary. In an age when the potential for new pandemics keeps growing, it offers a comprehensive history of how we got here—and a look at how we should face the challenges to come.