Documentary filmmaker Hannah Engelson made the film After the Wave to show the sensitive story of one hero in this past, pandemic year. The film depicts Sarah, a dental anesthesia resident at a public hospital in the Bronx who was unexpectedly assigned to work in a temporary COVID-19 intensive care unit in Spring 2020. Sarah specifically went into dentistry because she wanted to work in the medical field and help people but she was never prepared to care for patients who would be critically ill.
Combining taped phone recordings of Sarah and scenes of Sarah's life in New York, the film reminds us that care-workers are human, and not just a tool to fight the pandemic's numbers or statistics. Through observational moments we see Sarah's other life: a musician and athlete. And we realize the toll that the pandemic has taken on just one person's life, assigned by her duty to battle on the front lines of cover.
Engelson 'I made the decision to show Sarah going about her daily life outside of the hospital in order to focus on how her experience in the ICU still colors her day to day. Sarah is just trying to stay busy in order to cope, putting her constant motion into perspective. Only when she pauses to reflect that her time in the ICU “did a number” on her does she break down for just a moment.'
The project was funded in part by the Adobe Creative Residency Community Fund.