Documentary featuring Chinese doctors resonates with netizen amid novel coronavirus outbreak

By Liu Zhongyin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/5 16:23:07

Promotional material for The Chinese Doctor Photo: Courtesy of The Chinese Doctor

Promotional material for The Chinese Doctor Photo: Courtesy of The Chinese Doctor 

The nine-episode documentary The Chinese Doctor debuted on Chinese streaming platform iQIYI on January 27, a time when medical staff nationwide were heading to Central China's Hubei Province to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Echoing Chinese netizens' concern for and admiration of these medical practitioners, this documentary captured Chinese audiences' attention, earning a 9.2/10 mark on Chinese media review site Douban.

Filming took place at six of the best hospitals across China and focused on the patients and doctors in different treatment departments such as gynaecology, obstetrics and the emergency room. It tells the stories of doctors trying to help these patients and the challenges facing both sides.

Zhang Jianzhen, the documentary's general director and a researcher at the Institute of Journalism and Communication Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that they wanted to film the documentary in a realistic and rational light without exaggerating the misfortune of patients or merely singing an ode to doctors. 

"We want to present the multiple facets of the doctors and patients' humanity and depict the kindness among people," Zhang said.

"Doctors are the ones who tried the best to save the patients but sometimes things don't end well due to uncertainty of medicine. They are called soldiers in white gowns because they are often the ones who dragged patients back from the edge of cliffs," Zhang said.

Zhu Liangfu was a 44-year-old cerebrovascular doctor who took part in filming the documentary. At the beginning of the documentary's first episode, he talked about a real case in which an elderly woman blamed him for the death of her husband and said she wanted to tear Zhu to pieces.

Immense tension between doctors and patients is common in China. There are frequent reports of patients or family members of patients attacking doctors when treatment doesn't work out.

This documentary gives audiences an authentic view of how doctors fulfill their responsibilities. "We respect doctors not because they are faultless angels but because they give humankind the hope that we can overcome life's impermanence and our vulnerability," netizen Shuqi said in a review of the documentary on Douban.

According to Zhang, four episodes of this documentary saw a limited release on CCTV channel 4 in May 2019. After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, they immediately decided to release the entire series on iQIYI. 

"We want to use this documentary to pay respect to Chinese medical staff who are fighting at the frontline of the epidemic," Zhang said.

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