Premiering Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 9 pm ET on TVO and streaming afterwards at tvo.org and the TVO Docs YouTube channel, TVO Original Dispatches From a Field Hospital is a heartrending and timely documentary on how Ontario families are straining to keep in touch while staying apart during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. In this film, acclaimed filmmaker Matt Gallagher explores the challenges and hopes that his family, and so many others, share as they cope with elderly relatives who are living in long-term care, shut away from family support and interaction.
“So many Ontario families have been separated during this incredibly difficult period in our history,” says John Ferri, VP of Current Affairs and Documentaries at TVO. “This TVO Original is deeply personal and thought-provoking in the way it bears witness to the emotional toll COVID-19 has had on families and especially their elders.”
Residents of long-term care homes have experienced some of the worst impacts of COVID-19, and the public health measures designed to help are also creating a difficult side effect: solitude. As a high-risk population already suffering disproportionately from physical and mental ailments, seniors in long-term care have had to cut themselves off from their families to avoid the novel coronavirus. Filmmaker Matt Gallagher (director of award-winning TVO Original Prey) witnessed his own father contract COVID-19, which resulted in his transfer to a MASH-style field hospital with 49 of his fellow nursing home residents.
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Featuring intimate conversations captured through tablets, smartphones, landlines and letters, the film follows a small group of families, including director Matt Gallagher’s, as they cope with the universal anxieties of the pandemic. Front-line healthcare workers also speak about their unique role in facilitating communication for those separated by quarantine measures.
“Making a documentary during a pandemic challenged me in more ways than I can count – both personally and as a filmmaker,” says director Matt Gallagher. “It was easily the most difficult film I have ever made. But, in the end, it was worth it, if only as an enduring love letter to my parents.”
TVO Original Dispatches From a Field Hospital is part of TVO’s March “Inside Stories: A Year of COVID,” which will examine the psychological and social impacts of the pandemic. Upcoming features include the globe-spanning documentary Outbreak: The Virus That Shook the World, the lead episode of a three-part series called The Disease Hunters, and The World at a Distance: Corona and the Year of Silence, an artful portrait of our current global emergency, as well as themed segments on TVO’s The Agenda and in-depth articles on tvo.org.
Watch the premiere of TVO Original Dispatches From a Field Hospital on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 9 pm ET on TVO, or stream it anytime on tvo.org and YouTube. The film will also be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 20 at 10:30 pm ET and Sunday, March 21 at 10:30 pm ET.