The Coronavirus pandemic is sure to spawn films, and director Mostafa Keshvari's Corona is the first on the subject. The movie, uses the pandemic , which started in China, to talk about racism and fear among those confined to apartments now.
He told the media recently: "The idea came to me when I was in an elevator reading news about Chinese tourists being attacked, and I thought I'm going to make a film in an elevator."
Corona is about six neighbours who are in the building's elevator, and when a new neighbour, a Chinese, essayed by Traei Tsai, gets in, there is fear and unease. In the movie, which shot by a handheld camera in a single take, "you see the rawness of the characters. They talk over each other and their fear becomes real," the director says.
The ensemble cast includes Emy Aneke, playing a black elevator repairman; Zarina Sterling as a millennial woman; Richard Lett as a white supremacist in a wheelchair; Andrea Stefancikova as a blonde wife; Josh Blacker as the building owner; and Andy Canete as an indebted tenant.
When the film was shot, Keshvari had no clue that the virus would assume this kind of pandemic proportions. . "It was then known as the Chinese virus, but now everyone can have it, so it's not just one race's problem. Now the human race has to come together to defeat the virus," the director insists. "The virus doesn't discriminate, so why should we?" Keshvari adds.
Keshvari got alerted about a possible pandemic when he realised that the city – Vancouver -- he was living in had a large Chinese-Canadian community facing possible ostracism, because the virus first appeared in China's Hubei province. He was also anxious about his own parents falling ill. "The fear about potentially losing someone you love only adds to the haste in making a movie," Keshvari added.
He first thought that Corona would have a run on the festival circuit, but now with many festivals cancelled or postponed, the option now open is a streaming platform. He is looking for one.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)
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