Bernardo Ruiz has made a career out of producing nonfiction filmmaking that feels urgent. His films have tackled everything from Latino leaders of the wine industry to photojournalists in Mexico. It’s no surprise to find him using his time during the coronavirus lockdown pursuing the same thing he’s always sought: to find with his lens a way to more clearly see and show the world around him. The result is Queens in Quarantine, a short documentary capturing precisely what its title suggests: what everyday life looks like in the New York City borough.
Speaking to Remezcla back in 2015, the Emmy-nominated filmmaker explained why he loved nonfiction filmmaking: “I prefer documentary in all of its forms, I love the combination of rigor and improvisation that it requires. Like life, you can prepare all you want, and then something you have no control over happens.” It’s no surprise the current pandemic — where we’ve all realized how little control we have over what happens — would fuel him to make a short film like this one.
Queens in Quarantine, which is nearly wordless, lets its images of desolate streets, empty subway cars, shuttered businesses and long food lines tell a story in themselves. Shot during the final week of April 2020 in Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst, the doc is an unflinching look at one of the hardest hit areas of New York City by the COVID-19 pandemic, as poetic as it is powerful.
Check out the full short below.