Stretchers fill the corridors; oxygen tanks are in short supply and patients die alone without a last word from their loved ones. This is the scene inside a hard-hit hospital in Cremona, northern Italy, at the height of the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.
Italy’s Frontline: A Doctor’s Diary is an hour-long documentary, by Bafta TV and Emmy award winning director Sasha Joelle Achilli (Outbreak), narrated by actress Florence Pugh (Little Women, Midsommar) and produced by Dan Edge (Exec Producer on For Sama).The film gives an unprecedented and intimate insight into three months of life on the Covid frontline with A&E doctor, Francesca Mangiatordi (pictured above). In the early days of the outbreak, the hospital is overflowing, she works gruelling 12-hour shifts caring for the vulnerable who have been most affected by Covid-19. Due to a lack of life-saving equipment she faces the traumatising task of prioritising which lives to try to save. There are not enough beds for everyone.
Director Sasha Achilli says: “Returning to Italy to tell this story was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Italy seemed like a different country to the one I had grown up in: streets completely empty, café’s closed, police everywhere stopping people on the move. I will never forget the constant sound of ventilators and Dr Francesca’s increasingly desperate plea to find beds for patients. Despite having covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa I was not prepared for Covid-19, nor was I prepared to witness a pandemic in my home country. I am deeply grateful to BBC 2 and BBC IPlayer for bringing this story to an audience”
Executive Produced by Raney Aronson for PBS Frontline and Sarah Waldron for the BBC This World, this intimate account of the Covid-19 battlefield takes us behind the hospital scenes. We lift the lid on the headlines and witness the human side of the pandemic. It feels especially relevant to us now as the UK tentatively emerges from its own devastating experience of Covid-19.
Italy’s Frontline: A Doctor’s Diary airs on BBC 2 and BBC IPlayer on 29th June at 9pm