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What Social Distance Looks Like Across the World

Apr 15, 2020 | 831 videos
Video by Ivan Cash and Jacob Jonas

Amid what can feel like a constant deluge of depressing news, A Social Distance is a glimmer of hope and a welcome reprieve. The short documentary—co-directed by Jacob Jonas and Ivan Cash, scored by Steve Hackman, and premiering on The Atlantic today—offers a window into the ordinary quarantine experiences of people from more than 30 countries. In the self-submitted videos, people dance, play music, take us on a tour of their refrigerator, and introduce us to their pets. Edited together, these intimate moments create a synchronicity of humanity—a feeling of togetherness that’s difficult to conjure when you’re sequestered at home.


One of the first videos that Cash saw in the early stages of the pandemic was of the Italian trumpeter Alberto Anguzza performing “Imagine” on his balcony. Cash wanted his project to elicit the same kinds of feelings. “We felt a responsibility to inspire people, spread hope, and encourage positivity,” he told me.


The filmmakers were humbled by the volume of submissions they received. “The diversity of so many ordinary people’s lives was surprisingly fascinating,” said Cash. The video captures the variety—and the commonality—of the human experience, from a 19-year-old in Slovenia to a 93-year-old in Malaysia.


Hackman, the film’s composer, wrote sheet music that he distributed to musicians across the world. When he received their recordings, Hackman combined the performances to create an original score. One of the musicians who submitted was Anguzza, the trumpeter.


“When we finally heard all the instruments come together,” Jonas told me, “we were struck that, despite the distance, we can unite to make something beautiful.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.