“Somewhere there is a light at the end of this tunnel. We have to believe it. Let’s hope for the dawn to break.” 

Those are the words uttered by Dr Yanila Nyasulu, specialist physician and a central figure in the riveting new documentary Zero to Zero filmed at the Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital (ZAH) that gives an unfiltered look at what it is like to be healthcare workers as the Covid-19 pandemic progressed over the past 15 month.

The documentary will broadcast exclusively on DStv Premium on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on 4 October at 20:30. 

It follows the staff of the 100-year-old ZAH from the moment they admit their first Covid patient in June 2020. What makes Zero to Zero especially stand out is that it’s filmed by a frontline worker at the hospital, radiologist and part time filmmaker Prof Leonie Scholtz. She co-directed the film with Christa Lategan and Shem Compion. 

“What’s special about Zero to Zero is that it is told from the perspectives of those who have been battling this pandemic daily since it began. It humanises the frontline workers, showing us a fraction of what they have had to face,” says Jan du Plessis, Director for M-Net Channels. 

“It also puts faces to some of the Covid-19 stats – there are interviews with former patients about their experiences at the hospital, as well as with their families about the impact that this has had on them,” du Plessis concludes. 

About why she began filming the hospital’s fight against Covid-19, Prof Leonie Scholtz says in the documentary: “When the pandemic started, I immediately realised that this is one catastrophic event where no photographers were allowed. Being a photographer myself, and also having access to the inner sanctum of the frontline, I felt obliged to document it.” 

Filming the events as they unfolded presented a challenge for the team, as they had no idea how the story would unfold. “We dealt with people going through real life and death situations, so our focus remained on the human spirit. The constant changing narrative was immensely difficult, but the personal journeys delivered a wonderful and authentic story,” says Producer, Christa Lategan.

What results is an incredible film that gives a glimpse of the toll the pandemic has had on healthcare and frontline workers, emotionally, mentally and physically. With some narration by actress Jana Cilliers, Zero to Zero also features interviews with various experts, including celebrated epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim.  

With unprecedented access to the hospital frontline, this story narrates what unfolded during the darkest moments of the Covid peaks. The footage from ICU and beyond tells a story of despair and hope.

The release of the film was announced yesterday during a briefing hosted by M-Net in collaboration with Multichoice and attended by Health Minister, Joe Phaahla and Prof Salim  Karim. 

Phaahla said the documentary recognises the sacrifices and resilience of health workers during the pandemic who were not only risking their own lives but also those of their families.  He thanked the hospital on behalf of government for its efforts in helping to bring the reality of the pandemic and what goes on behind the scenes in hospital to the attention of the public.