Distinguished by an innovative use of “VFX, archival footage, news coverage and original interviews,” the film examines the catastrophically bad decisions made by the Trump administration as the coronavirus initially spread throughout the United States. Within a period of months, the U.S. went from having no cases of the disease to becoming the Covid epicenter.
“I’ve shied away from acquiring any Covid-related films, whether docs or drama,” Syndicado President Greg Rubidge said in a statement, “until I saw The Curve. Adam’s doc hooked me in its first five minutes, playing out more as an investigative thriller that weaves its unfolding timeline through the political dismissal and mismanagement of the pandemic. We’re thrilled to be releasing the film, which so powerfully brings to light the arrogance and ignorance that needlessly killed so many Americans.”
A shorter version of the film was released last year just before the U.S. presidential election, under the abbreviated title The Curve. Syndicado will launch the “improved and revamped version” of the documentary for global buyers at AFM.
Benzine, a British-born writer-director based in Toronto, earned an Academy Award nomination for his 2016 short documentary Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Greg and the team at Syndicado to launch The Curve globally,” Benzine said. “I had hoped that by fall 2021, this would have become an historical documentary. But with more than 100,000 new Covid cases per day in the U.S. [as of October 25], it has sadly become more important and more relevant than ever.”
Separately, Film Platform acquired educational rights for The Curve: 90 Days That Changed America. The Israel-based company will offer the documentary to academic institutions globally beginning this fall.
The Curve features interviews with more than two dozen experts, including analysts, researchers, journalists and political figures, “examining nine key failures made by the American government that allowed an emerging pandemic to become a national catastrophe.”
One of those experts is Dr. Ali Khan, former director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.
“We never had good visibility on where disease was in the United States and how it was spreading, and that’s because we never had good testing,” Dr. Khan comments in the documentary. “I call that the original sin.”
In the period covered in the documentary, the U.S. went from zero Covid cases to 29,000 deaths from the disease. Benzine examines faulty decision-making that left the U.S. vulnerable to a pandemic even before President Trump took office. But The Curve is unsparing in its criticism of Trump’s handling of the outbreak.
“There’s no getting around the fact that he [was] America’s chief executive, and he viewed acknowledgement of the pandemic and its effects as being an inherent criticism of himself and his job performance,” Benzine told Deadline earlier this year. “That meant because of his unique psyche, he wasn’t able to acknowledge the pandemic as it was happening, without viewing it as a personal defeat.”
The filmmaking team crowdfunded the documentary in 2020, raising more than $50,000 through Kickstarter. Benzine wrote, produced and directed The Curve: 90 Days That Changed America. Toronto-based production company Jet Black Iris produced. Tiffany Beaudin edited the doc; Emmy-winner Joel Goodman composed the score. Miller Thomson LLP partner Divya Shahani executive produced.
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