Documentarians Janet Tobias and John Hoffman also share a scene left on the cutting-room floor where the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (turned pandemic cultural icon) discusses “how much we need to heal things in America beyond COVID.”
Though Dr. Anthony Fauci became a national icon during the COVID-19 pandemic, the first major, theatrically released documentary profiling the infectious disease specialist is the result of a conversation dating back nearly three years.
Director Janet Tobias (No Place on Earth, Unseen Enemy) was working on an AIDS vaccine project when she initially approached the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2018 with the idea of doing a film that would be a sort of “biographical portrait” of a longtime public servant, she recalls. Filming began in the fall of 2019; “and then of course the pandemic happened,” changing the story and complicating production. Help arrived in the form of director John Hoffman (Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, The Antidote), who reached out to the National Institutes of Health in February 2020 looking to do his own film on Fauci. The NIH suggested the two filmmakers team up, and by the end of March, they began collaborating. Their combined vision for the film paired on-the-ground footage of and interviews with Fauci (Tobias moved to Washington D.C. for the film) during the onset of COVID-19 with a look back at his career and role in the U.S.’ response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.