Streaming Access
Unfortunately, this film is not available for streaming yet.
As soon as it will be available for streaming, it will appear in your university streaming page.

The First Wave


With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, Oscar®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning director Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. Leaving a devastating trail of death and despair, this once-in-a-century pandemic changed the very fabric of our daily lives and exposed long-standing inequities in our society.
Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman embeds with a group of doctors, nurses and patients on the frontlines as they all desperately try to navigate the crisis. With each distinct storyline serving as a microcosm

Running Time: 93 min.
Subject(s): Current Affairs, Ethnography, Health, Science, Society
Language(s): English
Subtitles: English
Producer(s): Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman, Leslie Norville
Cinematographer: Ross McDonnell, Thorsten Thielow, Brian Dawson, Matthew Heineman, Alex Pritz
Editor(s): Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes, David Zieff
Production Company: Our Time Projects


  • Variety
    "It's both a vital piece of historical record that bravely captures the unseen horrors of the pandemic and a generous celebration of human dignity whose existence feels miraculous."
    Tomris Laffly
  • The Wrap
    "The First Wave” understands the way that individuals frequently can only process events in personal terms and amplifies that understanding in order to create a broader portrait of loss, and to create and encourage empathy to persevere in spite of it."
    Todd Gilchrist
  • The Hollywood Reporter
    "It’s also a breathtaking testament to the fight to live, the calling to heal, and the power of human connection."
    Sheri Linden

Festival Participation

  • News & Documentary Emmy® Awards - 2022
    Best Documentary
  • News & Documentary Emmy® Awards - 2022
    Outstanding Cinematography
  • News & Documentary Emmy® Awards - 2022
    Outstanding Editing
  • Cinema Eye Honors Awards - 2022
    Award Nominee
  • International Documentary Association - 2022
    IDA Award Nominee
  • DOC NYC - 2021
  • Critics' Choice Documentary Awards - 2021
    Award Nominee
  • Hollywood Music In Media Awards - 2021
    HMMA Award Nominee
  • International Documentary Association - 2021
    Pare Lorentz Award Winner
  • International Documentary Association - 2021
    Outstanding Documentary Cinematography Nominee
  • Montclair Film Festival - 2021
    David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking Winner
  • Montclair Film Festival - 2021
    Bruce Sinofsky Prize for Documentary Feature Nominee
  • Philadelphia Film Festival - 2021
    Feature Competiton Award Winner
  • Philadelphia Film Festival - 2021
    Jury Award Winner

Distribution Company

Back to Film Summary

This Week’s Featured Films