Hot on the heels of extensive coverage of the Ebola epidemic, CNN announced Thursday that it plans to partner with Sierra Tango Productions on a global influenza film.
Through the lens of the historic 1918 global influenza pandemic — which killed between 30 and 50 million globally — the documentary will dig deep into the potential pathogens that pose the greatest risk of the next pandemic.
The medical film will be directed and produced by the Emmy Award winner Janet Tobias. Michael Ehrenzweig, journalist Peter W. Klein, and Rogger Lopez will co-produce with Tobias. Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Cesar Charlone will co-diret and Benjamin Berkowitz will lead partnerships for the film’s theatrical distribution, festival exhibition, and TV airing.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta — CNN’s chief medical correspondent — will serve as an executive producer and advisor to the film.
“In making this film, I wanted to collaborate with a film group that was part of a trusted news network. CNN Films was the obvious choice given CNN’s global perspective – and the superb work of chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta,” Tobias said.
The film follows microbiologist Dr. Peter Piot, MD as he travels to the first known place stricken with Ebola — the Democratic Republic of Congo — as well as West Africa, where today’s outbreak has killed thousands.
“Recent experience has shown us that modern life has made nations very vulnerable to global pandemic,” Amy Entelis, CNN’s senior vice president for talent and content development, said. “We commissioned this film as a way to present the risks, explore the challenges, and offer solutions to this threat. After Janet’s critically-acclaimed work on the superb film, ‘No Place on Earth,’ we knew she was exactly the perfect filmmaker to create this complex story for theater-goers and CNN viewers.”
The documentary is set to hit film festivals and theaters next year and will air on CNN in 2016.