Things got meta at this year’s Goteborg Film Festival as Swedish emergency nurse Lisa Enroth, famously isolated for a week on an inhospitable island with no phone, no family and limited outside contact including little more than one outgoing daily video diaries, screened Alistair Morrison’s COVID-19 lockdown isolation documentary “Time to Pause,” with a special message of encouragement from the filmmaker and several of its subjects.
“It must be pretty rough on that island there,” Morrison explained in the pre-recorded message, “but I know that it’s been rougher for you for the last year working with COVID patients.”
It’s clear from the film’s delivery and the way Morrison discusses his work that the sentiment was far more than lip service. His admiration for the front line and essential workers profiled in his film is clear, and his handling of sensitive and sometimes tragic moments in their lives demonstrates a sensitivity appropriate for the often somber yet equally uplifting tone of the film.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns wore on over the past year, Morrison, an award-winning photographer, decided to make the best of a bad situation and begin documenting the pandemic from different points of view around the world. Originally conceived as a photography project where 1,000 people would allow Morrison to photograph them over the internet, the photographer became filmmaker when he realized that he was not only capturing the still images of these people, but was seeing into the intimate, emotional lives of strangers from around the world, each affected by the pandemic in their own way.
In the end, Morrison interviewed hundreds of individuals from all walks of life, including artists and celebrities such as Simon Callow, Brian Cox, Harriet Walter, David Suchet and Juliet Stevenson, and recorded several musical and theatrical performances including an original song, “The Pause,” composed for the film by U.K. artists Ferris and Sylvester.
As the snow fell around Enroth while filming her diary the day after seeing the film, she gleefully announced that, “I got a message yesterday from the director of ‘Time to Pause,’ just for me, and that was absurd!”
Morrison’s film struck a chord with the front-line healthcare worker, particularly its interviews with healthcare workers Stephanie Tonge in London and Teresa Pfefferkorn in Alabama. Enroth was thrilled to virtually meet the two in an online discussion with Morrison and the nurses after her island isolation had ended, doubly so when Ferris and Sylvester chimed in with a greeting of their own.
“I really needed it. And just to hear you and see you in the film and then getting the greetings, I was so happy I was crying my eyes out,” Enroth shared with Tonge and Pfefferkorn in their online video chat. “I didn’t feel so alone. It meant a lot.”
“I believe that everyone who has been affected by corona in any way, working with it, losing someone important or catching the illness, we must talk so much more about the loneliness and about the trauma that this caused. When you spoke, I felt an instant will to reach out to you and be able to chat with you,” she added
Morrison was thrilled by Enroth’s observations and explained that, “One of the things I was hoping would come out is the idea that we are all connected. Now I wonder why we weren’t connected like this before the virus.”
Referencing the impact the film had on her, an emotional Enroth explained, “I feel more fragile. My skin is not that thick anymore. Seeing the film with these colleagues and scenes from other hospitals and nurses and patients and interviews with people who lost someone important to them, especially when the hospital scenes came up of the nurses with the gear on, it hit me.”
She then more succinctly summed up the experience, confidently proclaiming, “If you haven’t seen it, you need to!”
“Time to Pause” was written, directed and produced by Morrison and edited by Max Wyllie with music from John Metcalfe. Choromoro Consulting handles sales.