Covid Diaries NYC


COVID DIARIES NYC chronicles the lives of five young filmmakers, ranging in age from 17 to 21, who turn their cameras on themselves to tell the stories of their families during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The deeply personal film illuminates the plight of essential workers and their families during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis as they navigate the deadly virus and a country riven by social upheaval.

With original animation by Rosemary Colón-Martinez, COVID DIARIES NYC is comprised of five brave and at times heart wrenching first-person profiles that provide profound insight into these young people’s experiences as they process the impacts and meaning of the COVID-19 pandemic:

    “The Only Way to Live in Manhattan” follows Marcial Pilataxi, who lives with and helps his grandmother at a building where she works as the superintendent. They wrestle with the increasing amounts of tenants’ garbage because of those sheltering at home. Marcial makes food deliveries and tries to maintain normalcy with his friends as the city he knows changes against the backdrop of the pandemic and a city torn apart by unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

    “My COVID Breakdown” follows Aracelie Colón, who struggles with her mental health as her father continues to go to work at the post office every day while the threat of the virus looms.

    “When My Dad Got COVID” follows Camille Dianand, who is concerned about her father, a subway mechanic for the MTA. After a coworker dies from the virus, her father contracts COVID-19 and the family faces life and death terror.

    “No Escape From New York” follows Shane Fleming, whose parents lose their jobs, leaving the family worrying about mounting bills, growing debt and their need to move out of New York City. They decide to go on a road trip to escape their problems, but the issues his mother and father face follow them wherever they go.

    “Frontline Family” follows Arlet Guallpa, who watches with her family as ambulance after ambulance arrives at their apartment building in Washington Heights to take away residents who die from the virus. Despite their fears, her parents, a bus driver and home care attendant, carry on with work and try to overcome their anxieties about their family’s exposure.

HBO Documentary Films’ COVID DIARIES NYC is a DCTV production, directed by Marcial Pilataxi, Aracelie Colón, Camille Dianand, Shane Fleming, Arlet Guallpa, and Rosemary Colón-Martinez; produced by Jon Alpert, Jesse Perez Antigua, Sade Falebita, Naomi Mizoguchi, and Johnny Ramos; executive produced by Carrie Penner, Perri Peltz, and Matthew O’Neill.

Founded in 1972, DCTV is a renowned media center in New York City where community screenings and discussions, youth media and continuing education programs, and affordable filmmaking resources all exist side by side with DCTV’s own, award-winning documentary productions. DCTV Youth Media provides free filmmaking training, mentorship and professional development for NYC teens and young adults.


The film premieres March 9th, 2021 at 9pm ET on HBO and HBO Max. Watch >


Screening Week for Students & Educators: May 3-7

May 3-7, educators and students in classrooms across the country are invited to join us for a special week of free virtual screenings followed by a panel discussion featuring the young filmmakers behind the documentary. RSVP.

Mental Health Panel: May 18

This may be one of the most important years to honor Mental Health Awareness Month. Join us on Tuesday, May 18th, 7pm ET for a free short screening of the film followed by a virtual panel discussion about COVID-19’s profound impact on the mental health of young people and BIPOC communities. RSVP.

Resource & Discussion Guide

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Facilitator & Educator Guide

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Select Press

Gothamist: "Covid Diaries NYC" Offers A Visceral Glimpse Of The Pandemic's Arrival by Jen Carlson
Vulture: "25 Notable New Releases Over the Next Two Weeks"
AV Club: "TV gets real this March with COVID Diaries NYC, Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and a Real World Homecoming"
Time Magazine: "HBO’s COVID Diaries NYC Is a Bracing, Authentic Antidote to Fluffy Quarantine TV"
The Guardian: "'We knew so little': the young film-makers who captured early quarantine life"
Vox: "Plague journals and the need to capture time"
International Documentary Association: "Doc Star of the Month: Arlet Guallpa, COVID Diaries NYC"
CBS New York: "HBO Documentary ‘COVID Diaries NYC’ Highlights Experiences Of 5 Young Filmmakers During Pandemic"

Media Contacts

Hayley Hanson
Senior Publicist, Media Relations
HBO Media Relations

Veronica Van Pelt
Vice President, Media Relations
HBO Media Relations