Neon’s documentary Totally Under Control paints a devastating picture of the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There are moments that we look at in the film where the administration could have sort of righted the ship, released more funds, released the Defense Production Act to get more companies making more PPE, and that didn’t happen,” co-director Suzanne Hillinger says during Deadline’s Contenders Documentary awards-season event. “We’re still seeing effects of that now, unfortunately.”
Oscar winner Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Hillinger joined forces to direct the film, springing into action to release it by October. “We moved at lightning speed,” Gibney says. “All three of us were working nonstop.”
Gibney was asked whether the administration’s failures resulted from incompetence or willful negligence.
“It was clearly incompetence because the Trump administration had playbooks…that they themselves designed…for exactly what to do in exactly this situation,” Gibney says. “We show in the film that by February 7th Donald Trump knew—as he told Bob Woodward in an interview that was recorded—how deadly was the virus. If you know how deadly was the virus, how could you not put in place a plan that they knew how to execute? Unless you’re doing that deliberately.”
Harutyunyan says the Trump administration is still failing to take appropriate action to stop Covid-19.
“The numbers are worse than when we were making the film,” she says. “There is really no justification to why we’re doing so badly, other than that the government just doesn’t care.”
‘Totally Under Control’ Filmmakers Blast Trump Administration “Incompetence” In Covid Response – Contenders Documentary The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deadline.