'There is no plan': 'Totally Under Control' explores Trump administration's COVID-19 failure

Alex Gibney, Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan talk about documentary 'Totally Under Control,' which looks at the Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the situation in the United States spirals in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country plunges headlong towards a critical election, it’s apt timing for a documentary like Totally Under Control.

It acts as both a primer on what’s happened with the Trump administration’s handling of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as well as a terrifying foreshadowing of what’s to come if things continue unchecked.

Packed to the gills with information, co-directors Alex Gibney (Going Clear), Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan present a dense reveal of behind-the-scenes failures and miscommunication within some of America’s most hallowed institutions.

While some of the information may seem like old news to those of us abreast of current politics — and with our light-speed news cycle, things become obsolete in minutes — Totally Under Control is a deep dive, and we get to hear directly from the people involved, witnesses to the apparent collapse in American federal decision-making.

Shot in secret over the last five months, the three directors interviewed scientists, medical professionals, volunteers and U.S. government officials — some who put their careers on the line to speak their minds — about the dire state of the country as it faces more than 210,000 deaths of its citizens and an infected president. (Trump’s infection didn’t make it into the movie, as it occurred a mere day after the film finished production.)

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One of the more upsetting facts on clear display in the movie is how many people in governmental organizations or medically important positions have been fired and/or moved and/or silenced over the course of the past year, most of whom voiced disagreement or dissent of the Trump administration’s agenda.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the very institutions that need to be steadfast in the face of calamity, are both poorly represented in Totally Under Control, depicted as Donald Trump’s political puppets seemingly abandoning science.

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“The future could be bright, we know a lot more about (COVID-19),” said Gibney to Global News. “The big problem now is there is no plan. There’s no coordinated federal plan in order to deal with it properly. There’s just a purposeful absence of a plan, so the future really depends on what happens on Nov. 11.”

“With an extraordinary team of collaborators, I was compelled to mount this production when I saw the scale of incompetence and political corruption by the Trump Administration in the face of a global pandemic,” Gibney said as he and his colleagues started making the movie.

“Now we know that by Feb. 7, Trump knew that COVID was, in his words, ‘a deadly virus.’ But instead of working to protect the American people by containing the virus, the current administration was willfully blind to the growing contagion (‘It’s like a miracle; it will disappear,’ said Trump) in hopes that voters wouldn’t notice any problems until after the 2020 election.”

Global News sat down for an exclusive interview with Gibney, Hillinger and Harutyunyan about the film, how the Trump administration failed the American people and what they see happening in the U.S. over the next few months.

(You can watch the interview, top.)

‘Totally Under Control’ is now available for streaming on all digital and on-demand platforms in Canada, including Amazon Prime Video.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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