film

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci

When I first saw the preview of National Geographic's documentary about Anthony Fauci, I was confused. My assumption was that the documentary was made to profile his role in the COVID-19 pandemic response as that's how he became a household name. How did the filmmakers know they would need to get footage of Fauci at the very beginning of the pandemic, when no one knew yet what it would become?

The answer is: They didn't. This film was never intended to be about this pandemic at all. The profile of Anthony Fauci was planned by award-winning filmmakers John Hoffman and Janet Tobias in 2018 and they began filming in the fall of 2019, several months before anyone had even heard of SARS-CoV-2. The filmmakers originally planned to highlight Fauci as a lesser-known public servant, focusing primarily on his work throughout the AIDS pandemic.

What they ended up with is parallel stories of Fauci's AIDS work and Fauci's COVID response, and their "lesser-known" subject becoming a superstar during the making of the film. In fact, the press release for the film included the following, which is an unusual disclaimer but one the filmmakers felt necessary in the current climate: "Dr. Fauci had no creative control over the film. He was not paid for his participation, nor does he have any financial interest in the film's release."

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