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HBO's first show in Catalan features drama of Covid-19 in hospital

'Vitals: A True Human Story' follows health workers and patients during pandemic's first wave

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02 February 2021 05:43 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

HBO's first show in Catalan will premiere on HBO Spain and Europe on Sunday February 8. 'Vitals: A True Human Story' follows the lives of Covid-19 patients and health workers in Sabadell, a city just north of Barcelona, during the pandemic’s first wave.

"It is one of the realest and most loyal portrayals of Covid-19, and it leaves the numbers behind in order to focus on the people," explained director Fèliz Colomer in an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

Focusing on the real names and faces behind the statistics, the show promises to "have a different impact" than what is seen every day through news outlets.

The series centers around the lives of the health workers and Covid-19 patients from March to June 2020, at the Parc Taulí Hospital in Sabadell - a city Colomer hopes “to put on the map.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, one of Colomer’s friends, a doctor at Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, planted the seed of what would become 'Vitals', suggesting he film a documentary about the unprecedented situation inside hospitals.

Entering Parc Taulí's ICU ward

With this, 'Vitals' was born. Colomer searched for hospitals which would allow him to document such a sensitive topic, and the Parc Taulí Hospital welcomed the filmmaker with open arms. He was allowed access into moments and situations rarely seen by the public.

The trust the patients and health workers gave to Colomer was "the most beautiful part of the project", in his opinion.

As the director approached each room by himself, without camera equipment, describing the project to potential volunteers, he found that all those asked agreed to share these vulnerable times with him and his camera.

In an emotional part of the trailer, one of the participants leaves the hospital surrounded by medical staff in a chorus of applause, whilst a young woman at home exclaims to her family: "They did not have to die now, they did not have to die this way."

Stepping away from sensationalism

The series is sure to be a hard-hitting reminder of the human cost of the Covid-19 health crisis. An especially harrowing part of the process according to Colomer was the discussion surrounding the deaths of some of the patients followed.

"There were many ways to explain [deaths]" Colomer pondered; in the end it was decided that it would be done "in an elegant way, withholding from sensationalism."

Such is the main aim of the documentary, Colomer focuses on stepping away from the amplification of the crisis through ever-mounting figures.

Colomer insisted that "if you watch the documentary you may never have to see anything again because it is a faithful portrait and not one thing was changed."

In Catalonia, as of February 1, 2021 19,304 people have died from the Covid-19 virus in Catalonia, with 508,563 cases having been confirmed.

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  • A still from the HBO series 'Vitals. A True Human Story' (HBO)

  • A still from the HBO series 'Vitals. A True Human Story' (HBO)

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