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Interview with "Becoming Cousteau" Director Liz Garbus; Interview with "The First Wave" Director Matthew Heineman; Interview with Physician Dr. Nathalie Douge. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 17, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: The dictatorships understand only the language of power.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya calls Alexander Lukashenko a criminal who's weaponizing desperate migrants
to pressure Europe and the United States.
Then: Neighboring Poland, an E.U. member, uses water cannon to drive them back from its border. I ask the country's deputy foreign minister why.
JACQUES COUSTEAU, EXPLORER: I wanted to show what was in the sea, so the people would love it.
AMANPOUR: "Becoming Cousteau." Director Liz Garbus takes us underwater with her new film on the legendary explorer, filmmaker and environmentalist
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Stop. I have a pulse. I have a pulse right here, pulse, pulse.
AMANPOUR: Filmmaker Matthew Heineman and Dr. Nathalie Douge talk to Hari Sreenivasan about the new documentary "The First Wave," when COVID hit New
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Another night is falling on the Belarus-Poland border, where scores, hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers are still waiting, desperate for a
chance to reach the European Union. Some finally do have a roof over their heads because the weight of global public opinion has now forced Belarus to
bring mostly women and children to an indoor refuge and to provide some food and comfort for the first time in months.
Their anger at having to camp out in the forest had reached fever pitch by yesterday. And border guards in neighboring Poland fired water cannons and
tear gas at them. The European Union says this crisis is manufactured by Belarus. It accuses the Lukashenko regime of deliberately luring refugees
and dropping them at the E.U.'s doorstep in revenge for E.U. sanctions.
You may remember those sanctions were imposed after the 2020 presidential elections, when Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stood in as a candidate for her
husband, who had been jailed by authorities. She then fled to Lithuania after it was clear the election was fraudulent.
I asked her about Lukashenko's tactics now.
AMANPOUR: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, welcome to the program.
TIKHANOVSKAYA: Hello, everyone.
AMANPOUR: So this must be hellish for you watching these poor people on your border with Poland being treated like criminals, and really in an
What is your reaction to how these migrants are being treated?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: You know, I really feel pity for the people who are on the borders, because they are a weapon in the hands of criminal that wants to
take revenge on European Union for -- because they are standing with the Belarusians.
I think that's humanitarian -- this is humanitarian catastrophe, for sure. And Europe, I think, has to send a humanitarian mission to the borders and
help the most fragile people among migrants, like women or children.
But, of course, on the other hand, Europe doesn't have to communicate with Lukashenko, because he initiated this crisis and he's responsible for this.
AMANPOUR: So, when you say it doesn't have to communicate, you mean Europe should not have direct talks with Lukashenko.
But you called somebody a criminal. You said the migrants are being weaponized by a criminal. Who do you mean precisely?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: Regime, I mean, Lukashenko himself and his cronies.
AMANPOUR: So do you think that they have got the message, Lukashenko and his cronies, as you call them? Because they're starting to take these
migrants, at least half of them, we understand, or at least 1,000 of them, into covered shelter.
And they're starting to give them some food.
TIKHANOVSKAYA: I think that regime understands that European Union doesn't have any intention to communicate with the regime.
But migrants also become a problem for regime itself. And they want to show that they take care of people, but this is Poland or European Union that
doesn't take any care of people. They want to split West. They want media to accuse to accuse European Union in non-human treat of people, but regime
is so wonderful, they take care of them.
AMANPOUR: Well, you said in part of your tweet, you said you were -- it was heartbreaking to see what was happening to these people.
But you said, "The dictator," your way of referring to Lukashenko, "does everything to make Belarus an outcast country. But Belarus must not be
equated to the regime."
What do you mean by that?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: I mean that, usually, in media, journalists mention that Belarus brought migrants to the borders, Belarus did this or that.
But regime is not Belarus. Regime is illegal government or illegal president that represent only the small group of people in Belarus, but the
rest of the population, they don't want to bring migrants to the borders, they don't want to contradict to the West. They want peaceful resolution of
political situation in our country.
Our people want to release political prisoners in Belarus. They want negotiation and new elections. So we have to distinguish, not to call
regime Belarus, because it's not the same.
AMANPOUR: So, distinguish between the regime and the people.
So, since you raised the point about political prisoners, your husband is still a political prisoner. And, as we know, he was the one who was going
to run for president. Then he was arrested when they saw that he was gaining traction. Then you ran. And then the election was annulled and, as
you and the E.U. say, was stolen.
Do you know the condition of your husband right now?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: My husband is on so-called trial at the moment. It's a closed trial, not even the court, but in the prison.
And we think that, in the nearest weeks maybe, he will be sentenced maybe to 15 years of jail. And the condition of all the political prisoners in
the jails are awful. Our poor women and men, they are in awful situation. They are humiliated physically and morally. They are tortured. They're
deprived of fresh air and normal food.
So, there are real tortures on there and people in jails, but people keeping strong. They know that not only Belarusians are fighting for their
release, but also all the European society standing with Belarusians.
AMANPOUR: So what do you think will happen if your husband, Sergei, is sentenced to multiple years in jail? Are you going to call for
demonstrations? Are you going to call for protests? Do you think they will be spontaneous reaction inside Belarus?
What do you think will happen?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: You know, a lot of Belarusians have been already sentenced to years in prison.
And it's not -- of course, Sergei is my beloved person, and I want him to be released, of course, but I think that our society is fighting every day
to release all of them. Maybe one sentence to my husband will not like arise people for huge demonstrations.
Now we are in the process of remobilization of people. We are building structures on the ground. We are working with workers movement. We are
working on victory plan. So, we are step by step mobilizing people for the second wave of uprising.
This is constant work. For example, we now are trying to mobilize people before referendum that is going to be -- maybe that will happen in
February. And it's difficult to demonstrate openly at the moment, because the level of repression is awful.
But we are trying mostly underground now to communicate with people, to act in Belarus with every possible means. But, of course, we need support and
solidarity of all the democratic countries.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, what Lukashenko appears to be doing is hitting back at the E.U. for the sanctions that were imposed ever since the election was
What do you want the E.U. to do right now about Lukashenko and about this refugee crisis at the border?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: We need decisive steps from the European Union.
We understand that regime, that dictatorships understand only the language of power. And we are sure that only the heat on their core of the problem,
the heat on the regime will improve the situation, will make him to understand that there is no other way out of this situation, but only
negotiation with people.
The regime needs legitimization. Regime needs recognition. And we don't have to allow this.
AMANPOUR: All right, thank you so much, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
And let me ask you, do I say opposition leader or do I say president in exile of Belarus? How do you call yourself?
TIKHANOVSKAYA: You know, people call me differently, and leader of opposition and president of Belarusian, president in exile.
I think that it doesn't matter how I'm called. No, I know that the majority of Belarusians voted for me on the presidential election. And people in
Belarus thinks about me as -- about president, yes, in exile, but I'm person they voted for.
So it means it does matter how people call me. It matters, what do you do to fight with dictatorship in Belarus?
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much for joining us.
TIKHANOVSKAYA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, as we mentioned, the Belarus-Poland border erupted in chaos Tuesday, when frustrated migrants threw rocks at Polish border guards, who
responded in turn with tear gas and water cannons.
But international law says refugees have a right to claim asylum.
With me now is Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Deputy Foreign Minister. Good to have you on, on this very important topic.
So, look, can I just invite you to use this platform to explain to the world why you, as a member of the E.U., a democratic country which upholds
human rights and the rule of law, would use water cannon and tear gas on defenseless unarmed civilians? Why would you do that?
PAWEL JABLONSKI, POLISH DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: I'm quite surprised to use these terms that they are defenseless while we are seeing, and we have
just looked at all of the footage of them attacking our border guards, attacking our soldiers, throwing stones, pellets.
They were also throwing stun grenades, which they were equipped by Belarusian forces. So it has nothing to do with defenseless refugees. These
people are not refugees. And we have been saying this. This needs to be repeated, because this is in fact not a refugee crisis. It is artificially
created political pressure.
These people are being used. And leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said very clearly they are being used as pawns, as warfare in Lukashenko's game, in
Lukashenko's hybrid war against the E.U.
People that are seeking refuge, genuine refugees, are welcome in Poland. We have proved that in August, when we accepted refugees from Afghanistan. But
these people have been brought to our borders not as refugees. They are being lured into the European Union in false hope that they will be allowed
illegally crossing the borders.
We cannot let that happen, because allowing these people into our territory would only tell Mr. Lukashenko, bring them more, bring hundreds of
thousands, not tens of thousands that are there right now.
AMANPOUR: OK, so look, we can see them. We're showing the pictures. We see them throwing stones.
You know yourself that you have just laid out they are being manipulated. They are individuals. They're civilians. They're not military. They may be
throwing stones, but they're not firing weapons.
And what I want to know from you again, as a government, is, of course, you have the right to defend your border. Nobody denies that. But international
law also states that refugees -- and many of them are -- despite what you say, they have been lured there by the Lukashenko regime.
We have seen the whole story. Nonetheless, it seems that they in this case are blameless, yes, the Lukashenko regime for the reasons you have laid
out, but international law says they are allowed, you must allow them entry for asylum. And yet you have passed a law last month that denies that.
What are you going to do with these people if they remain on the border there?
JABLONSKI: Law does not say that.
I have to repeat it very clearly. We have absolute, 100 percent clear reports where these people are coming from. They are not coming from
countries torn by war. They're not fleeing persecution. They're not fleeing torture, imprisonment.
They come from countries that, in the international law, are considered safe countries. Actually, Belarus, despite being governed by a dictator, in
terms of humanitarian situation, is considered a safe country in terms of Geneva Convention. If Belarus was brought these people on the territory,
and if they believe that they are escaping present persecution, it is also Belarusian duty to protect them.
We actually -- what we did -- it started in August and September. We sent three times a humanitarian campaign, an offer to Belarusian government to
assist these people in need. And these congress were rejected. Belarus rejected that, because this is the plan. The plan is to create a very
dangerous situation, to put these people in harm's way, so that they can show that other countries are responsible for their fate.
They are not. Poland is not responsible. Lithuania is not responsible. E.U. is not responsible. One hundred percent responsibility goes to Mr.
AMANPOUR: Right. But you have people on the border. And last month, your president signed an amendment that allows your authorities to send back
people caught illegally crossing the border. And you say -- you define them as illegally trying to cross.
So my question is, what are you going to do about it if, as you lay out, there is a cynical ploy by Lukashenko's regime? And some also say that
Poland is playing politics with this as well with elections coming up. What is the solution right now to these people on the border? You say they're
not fleeing war-torn countries. Many of them are from Iraq.
And you know the situation the ground in Iraq, constant explosions, people being killed, internecine warfare there.
JABLONSKI: There are countries that these people come from that I do understand that this might not be the situation they are living is as on
par with the situation in Europe.
But, at the same time, when -- please do not say that this is internal politics. We don't have any elections coming up. Next election in Poland is
in two years. We defend our borders. We have an obligation to our citizens, also to citizens of the European Union, as a member of international
community, to protect the border.
We are doing what is in the international law. Now what we need is pressure, unanimous, united stance of European Union, NATO, United Nations
too, that would force Mr. Lukashenko to organize safe returns for these people he brought himself, on purpose, to his territory. He needs to be
forced to organize safe returns.
As to these people that entered our territory illegally or not, well, they are being processed. They are being in detention centers. And they are
going to be treated as the law prescribes us, as we have our absolute clarity that these are not refugees. They are going to be processed and
deported. We are also working on organized swift readmission procedure.
And we need united pressure on Mr. Lukashenko to do the same, not to bring more people and send these that are already there safely back home.
AMANPOUR: Can I just say, though, your government has barred aid workers, medics and even journalists from entering that part of the forest where
much of this has been happening.
You say at least nine people have been found dead in the forest. Activists say it's much higher. The very respected London-based think tank Chatham
House has said this: "The E.U." -- and you're part of the E.U. -- "cannot let people starve and freeze at the border. The only positive outcome is if
Poland allows E.U. border guards, journalists and NGOs into the border region and manages to organize a very contained influx of migrants where
they're able to stay in the border region."
Are you planning to do that as a humanitarian gesture or solution?
JABLONSKI: Absolutely understand that someone has this approach.
But, respectfully, we cannot agree to that, because even having slightly open border would show both to Lukashenko and also to the people that are
falling prey to his tactics that are being lured into coming to the E.U. that their chance of getting into E.U. territory is actually growing.
So, if we would -- if we're talking now about a couple of dozen thousands of people that are in harm's way already, we would have 100,000 or 200,000
people in a similar situation in the coming months. So, humanitarian approach actually dictates being decisive here.
And when it comes to our restrictions on our border, we are actually facing unprecedented situation. We are also acting and all -- what is happening
now, we need to also face a lot of attempts at disinformation, at various tools of hybrid warfare that are being used.
We had various activists also pretending to be journalists that were actively destroying border fences, that were trying to make us open the
I understand that there are these values, access to information and security, and there are sometimes a conflict. We are doing everything to
provide all the necessary information. This -- the access is as large as is possible.
But security has to have priority when we are facing the most dangerous crisis in last 30 years.
AMANPOUR: OK, I can see it's a real crisis.
And I actually want to get to the Russian crisis that you're worried about, the U.S. is worried about, the buildup on the Ukrainian border.
But, first, let me just ask you. You talk about disinformation. Here is an Iraqi father. His name is Sangar. He's stuck at the border, your border,
with his family. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANGAR, IRAQI MIGRANT (through translator): We have been living in the jungle for eight days now. It's very cold here. We all came from Iraq. I
want a better life for all my family. We came here so that he can enjoy life like a normal child.
We are so tired. We have no energy left, no food, no patience. We can't do it anymore. We are calling on everybody who can help us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, do you think that's disinformation? I mean, that Iraqi looks very much like many of the refugees that I have covered
throughout my career.
So I just wonder what you would -- do you feel any sympathy for any of them on a human level?
JABLONSKI: (AUDIO GAP) sympathy for these people.
And I also feel a lot of sympathy for the people that can be lured into the same situation. What we have been doing for the last weeks is working
together very closely also with the governments of the region, also with the Iraqi government to organize a swift readmission procedure of safe
returns home, because these people deserve the right to be returned home, not to face any consequences, also criminal consequences, because crossing
the border illegally is a criminal -- it's a felony.
So we need to pressure Mr. Lukashenko, as the international community, to facilitate this, to organize safe returns. Iraqi government as well is
already organizing some flights home. We will be doing that. We will be working with anyone who wants to support us.
But this is the most important message to the people in Iraq, in other countries in the Middle East. Do not come. Do not fall prey to these lies,
to these threats, or to these ideas that you might have easy access to the European Union. It is impossible this way.
AMANPOUR: So, now I want to ask you about what I mentioned, the buildup that's causing a huge amount of concern from NATO, of which you're part,
from the E.U., from the United States and everything.
Very worried about the buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. How should the U.S. and Europe deal with that? And are you concerned, is
the government of Poland concerned that there could be another Russian invasion of Ukraine?
JABLONSKI: Concerns with all -- almost all Russia's activities in the last month and year, especially in the last days, amassing troops at Ukrainian
We have been very vocal about these threats. We have been warning consistently our allies, U.S. government included, our E.U. allies as well,
not to deal with Mr. Putin in a way that would serve his interests. It includes also the sanctions against Nord Stream II pipeline, because what
Putin intends is to actually start operating this pipeline, and then cut off gas supply to Ukraine, which would then put Kiev's government in a very
So we need to be united here as well. Putin and Lukashenko work hand in hand in the stabilizing security in Central Europe. This must be recognized
and this must be reacted to very firmly.
AMANPOUR: Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski, thank you so much indeed for joining us tonight.
And now from the land to the sea and the life of the legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. The red-capped French adventurer was absolutely dazzled
by life that he discovered underwater, his passionate pleas to save the environment seemingly way ahead of his time.
A new film sets out to capture the man and his extraordinary life. It's called "Becoming Cousteau." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COUSTEAU: In order to go deeper, in order to stay longer, I became an inventor by necessity.
People at that time had no idea what was going on under the surface. I had to put a camera in a housing. So, I had to invent that too. That's when I
understood the power of images.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action?
COUSTEAU: My films are no more just about beautiful little fish.
I try to convince people that they have to do something about this. We're dealing with the fate of mankind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Liz Garbus is the film's director, and she's joining me now from New York.
So, Liz, first of all, what drew you to Jacques Cousteau? You're more known for your films on Marilyn Monroe, Nina Simone, the chess master Bobby
Fischer. Why Jacques Cousteau?
LIZ GARBUS, DIRECTOR, "BECOMING COUSTEAU": Well, I was drawn to him because he was a childhood hero of mine.
I would -- I grew up pulling my chair up every Sunday night to "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" on ABC. And, as you know, there was --
there was no "Shark Week" or "Blue Planet." This was it. This was our portal to the wonders of the undersea world.
And he was blowing our minds with new species of fish and reefs every week. So it occurred to me as I was reading a book to my young son that his
legacy was being forgotten, and that he wasn't known to a new generation.
And as I started to peel back the layers, I realized that his story was incredibly relevant today as we struggle with inaction on the climate
AMANPOUR: And, as we said, he was way ahead of ahead of the times, right? And he helped sort of launch the environmental movement, the global
Just want to play a clip from the film in which you see his joy at being an explorer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COUSTEAU: I have that feeling of trespassing when I submerge, the feeling that you're cheating.
We're land animals, and we're not supposed to cross the threshold. Nature warns us, don't go. But we do go. And the sense of trespass vanishes.
BRUNO CAPELLO, CREW: The whole world was being discovered. And we had no idea that we were destroying, setting off dynamite to count the fish at the
surface to see how many fish lived underneath. We just didn't know any better at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So his voice and his words being translated.
And, to me, it seems a sense of naivete, whether from his discovery. He went from thinking is a trespasser to knowing that he wasn't. And then you
saw those pictures of people climbing on those giant turtles and blowing up the water, trying to count the fish.
The evolution was extraordinary.
GARBUS: Yes, that's what it really hooked me into the story, this kind of -- epiphany may be too strong a word, because it was a gradual reckoning
with the undersea world dying before his very eyes. He would go to reefs and compare photographs from 10 years earlier and see that the reefs were
He would experience -- he talked about feeling the warming waters against his skin in the Antarctic over the decades of diving there. So he was
really a firsthand witness of something we know is happening now because of science and everything we have learned over the years, but this was before
greenhouse emissions or global warming were even terms.
And he loved to spread the message of his love for the seas, in the hope that it would turn a generation of children, my generation, into activists
who would protect it. And we can see now, of course, that the burden of this is falling on yet another generation.
So his warnings were really, really ahead of their time and are still relevant today.
AMANPOUR: So he did actually inspire. I mean, I'm -- I hadn't seen some of that footage of the classrooms he went into, the speeches he made.
All these young people were cheering him and asking him really intelligent questions even at very, very young ages. And you talked just now about how
you first became acquainted with him from the ABC program. Tell me about how that happened. How did he get onto it?
Here's a French man with a heavy accent talking about the underworld, if you like, the undersea world. How did he get onto it, ABC, and for such a
long period of time? I think there were 12 parts?
GARBUS: Yes, so Cousteau is known as an inventor and, of course, an explorer, but he was also really a filmmaker at heart.
He said that's actually how he identified himself first and foremost, at least in his early years. And he made a couple of films. And those films
won an Oscar and then won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. So, he began to have a platform on the world stage. He was selling his photographs to magazines
like "National Geographic."
And he was really showing scenes of the undersea world that nobody had seen. So, finally, a TV executive got the idea that this could be a hit.
And it's now responsible, as we know, for decades and decades of extremely popular undersea programming.
And here it was.
This was the birth of that mega industry through his eyes.
AMANPOUR: And you talk about the inventor. I mean, I don't know whether anybody knows that he actually invented the Aqualung and practically, I
think, the housing around cameras that you then -- you know, now, it's common practice to take these waterproof cameras under the sea. You know,
it's an extraordinary sort of, as you say in the film or he may have said it, it's kind of a Leonardo da Vinci (INAUDIBLE), such a renaissance man.
GARBUS: That's right. He was a renaissance man and he was a real polymath, you know, an inventor, a filmmaker, an entertainer and ultimately, an
activist. And I think about his innovation and his unwillingness to kind of respect boundaries put before him, right, which had its, you know, pros and
cons as we see with his -- you know, with his killing of fish and, you know, sort of abuse of those turtles. But he also -- his spirit of
innovation is so necessary today, to think about that.
I mean, we've seen it recently with the development of these incredible vaccines in record time and how are we going to get through this climate
crisis, it's going to need both the commitment of nation states that have been falling short we saw at Glasgow, some progress, but a lot left to do
but also, innovation and, you know, clean energy sources, and that is how we're going to survive as species.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk a little bit about his sort of environmental ecological epiphany. So, the film shows how, you know, at some point, it
was a long, long time ago when he helped the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to discover oil off the coast of, what we now know as, Abu Dhabi, the United
Arab Emirates, and made them very rich, obviously, and the whole area very rich. And that he did, he says, to bankroll his global explorations on his
ship, the Calypso.
Then, in the fullness of time, after he saw what was going on, he then went on "The Dick Cavett Show," another very popular American talk show, and
explained how he regretted all that. Let's just play this, because it's quite powerful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CAVETT, HOST, "THE DICK CAVETT SHOW": Jacques Cousteau, I know you have thoughts about the world's resources being used up and you've seen it
happening year after year. And apparently, a lot of people who should have didn't. Do you have anything you want to say about that?
JACQUES COUSTEAU, FRENCH EXPLORER: Well, I was already involved in, what you say, scanning the possibilities of extracting energy from the sea
because of the choice that I made many years ago. But what I was shocked by is the speed and the shamelessness with which the industrial interest has
thrown to the waste basket all the environmental measures that had been very laboriously taken.
I feel responsible and feel guilty as everybody else as you should, that we are throwing blank checks on future generations that we don't pay, they are
going to pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know, Liz, those words were spoken decades ago. That was the British interviewer, Michael Parkinson, and before that, Dick Cavett, and
they could have been said from the stage at COP26 in Glasgow right now. He was so right about everything. But his epiphany and his seriousness then
about the world coupled with his grief over his son's death, Philippe, his son died, he was closest to him in his ecological adventures around the
sea, caused him to get, you know, more pessimistic in his views. And about that time, ABC dropped his series. Tell me about that.
GARBUS: That's right. As he became, as he had this gradual epiphany, understanding the perils to the undersea world, he became more of an
advocate. And he says himself, my shows are not going to -- any longer be about pretty little fish, but about the fate of humanity. I mean, that's a
big pivot for him.
And as he became, you know, more and more active and then also in structuring his shows around perils to the oceans. I mean, one of his
episodes was called, you know, the -- from cradle to coffin. You know, they became quite dark and he was cancelled by ABC. You know, we talk about
being cancelled now. Right now, he was literally cancelled. And he ultimately found home on CBS and as well as TBS, but the audiences were
smaller. So -- but he was happy to pay the price of commercial success in order to speak truth to power, which he continued to do.
But actually, you know, I would say he was rather optimistic come 1992 when all the nations gathered together for the first Earth Summit. But if he
would see now, as we cut to 2021 in Glasgow, how little had been implemented and how little courage has been shown from world leaders, I
don't -- I think that, you know, he would feel his optimism was misplaced.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned TBS, that's obviously Turner Broadcasting System, which was owned by our founder, Ted Turner. And in 1989, Ted Turner had a
conversation with Captain Cousteau and this, to your point, is what Cousteau told Ted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COUSTEAU: In the coming 100 years, if we do not rapidly change radically our way of conserving life and development and ideals and moral roles, if
we do not change all that quickly, then, you know, it sounds pretty bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, again, he's like a prophet of our times. What -- when you see all this, is your lasting impression of this man who you had
to track through, I don't know, hundreds of hours of footage and be with him for that long, you know, to make this film?
GARBUS: Look, I mean, it's -- when we were in the edit room, we talked about this being a Cassandra story. They -- the prophet who warns of the
impending doom speaking truth but nobody listens. But we are still in a moment where we can turn that around, where if we take bolder actions, we
could avert some of the worst consequences of the climate crisis. But instead, what we see in Glasgow is, yes, some progress but it's like, you
know, the buses pulling ahead and you want to pull the child, if there's a child standing in front, you want to pull her all the way out. Instead, we
keep pushing her a little bit, little by little to the side. That's not going to save us.
And much more radical actions, potentially short-term unpopular for political leaders have to be taken. And I think as citizens, what we can do
is show support for those actions. And again, I mean, I think that Cousteau's innovation is something that we see replicated, you know, as we
-- as I said earlier, with vaccines.
GARBUS: I mean, that kind of innovation, looking for clean energy sources, perhaps taking actions with nuclear like France has, not always a popular
GARBUS: But these kinds actions are going to have to be taken if we're going to avoid the most catastrophic effects to humanity.
AMANPOUR: Liz Garbus, "Becoming Cousteau," thank you so much. And what comes across is his deep, deep love of the sea and his curiosity. Thank you
And from a crisis facing our planet to the continuing health crisis facing the world, that is COVID-19. The Biden administration is looking to ramp up
the production of vaccines as global cases rise. The World Health Organization says more than 3 million new cases were reported last week
alone. And sometimes, just one story can illustrate the true horror.
In focus tonight, Dr. Nathalie Douge, one of the subjects at the harrowing documentary, "The First Wave," by Director Matthew Heineman. It takes
viewers inside one of New York's hardest hit hospitals. They both spoke to Hari Sreenivasan about this film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Matthew Heineman, director of "The First Wave," and Dr. Nathalie Douge, thank you both for
Matthew, you're a guy who has literally gone to where the trouble is. You've made films out of Syria and out of Mexican drug cartels. And then,
here you are on, really, in your backdoor, in the United States, in New York, you're watching this pandemic. How did you get access to this
hospital, to this place? And then, also, were you surprised by what you were seeing in there?
MATTHEW HEINEMAN, DIRECTOR, "THE FIRST WAVE": Yes. So, you know, we reached out hospital systems all across the country and basically, got rejected
from the hospital systems all across the country. But eventually got access to film along Jewish Hospital in our backyard in Queens.
There's many things that surprised me, having made films in different conflict zones around the world and you can sort of come home and somewhat
turn off your brain, although these stories never really leave you. I think in making "The First Wave" and telling this story, you know, it was a -- we
were documenting the same thing we were living with. So, it was really one of the hardest films I've ever made. This was -- it's really, 24/7 full on
experience for weeks and months, and it was terrifying.
But I think what pushed us to keep telling the story was the incredible, you know, fortitude, love, humanity and care that we saw every single day.
I didn't go to bed at night sort of feeling depressed about the state of the world. I went to bed at night sort of buoyed and deeply optimistic
about the power of the human spirit, because that's what we witnessed every single day. And despite the death and the terror, I think that's the
overwhelming thing that we all went to bed with every single night.
SREENIVASAN: Let's take a look at a clip in the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NATHALIE DOUGE, PHYSICIAN: All right. I'm back. I'm Dr. Douge. OK? So, I'm going to be in charge of your care while you're here.
DOUGE (voiceover): Last week, there were, like, maybe one, two, three patients that we kind of heard about, like whispered about.
DOUGE (on camera): They're telling me you're not needing as much as much oxygen as you did before.
DOUGE (voiceover): Is this a COVID patient? Is this not a COVID patient?
DOUGE (on camera): The infection went into his bones.
DOUGE (voiceover): And now, I have a list where pretty much all of the patients have COVID-19. It's such a crazy, scary feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, we're going to (INAUDIBLE) pulse. Put some pressure. Pulse him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Stop. I have a pulse. I have a pulse right here. Pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse.
DOUGE (voiceover): This is the problem, it's new. That's the worst thing. We are taught pattern recognition. And as of right now, there's no clear
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Douge, you were working at a hospital which is near the epicenter of what it was in New York and I kind of want to know a little
bit about the patients that you're working with that were coming through this and what kind of personal impact. I see in the film, I remember a
moment where you say, you know, this could have been my mom.
DR. DOUGE: So, it's amazing when people are faced with their mortality, how open, honest and vulnerable they are. When for -- I remember distinctly,
there were a multitude of patients who started telling me how much they loved their families. I just don't want to lose them. I've worked all my
life for X, Y, Z just to provide for my family. I can't leave them like this.
A lot of the patients were actually more concerned about the people outside of those hospital -- at those walls. They kept talking about, oh, my gosh,
I can't leave so and so. I need to be strong for so and so. People don't understand that no one wants to be a burden. No one wants to feel that
helpless. Everyone prides themselves on being independent, able to do what they can.
But in those hospital walls, when I talk to my patients, you can see that they felt like they had so much more life to give. They wanted to be that
person for their mom, their siblings, their children, for them to go back to. So, I just heard so many regrets of this can't be my time. There's so
many things I wanted to do. There's so many things I have left to do in this life, and that's the thing that people are not getting in terms of all
the preventative measures is that when you don't do something, it is a ripple effect.
So, I just want to give honor to those who we've lost because they did put up a fight. They didn't want to just succumb to COVID. But COVID is a beast
that we still don't know everything yet, but we do know that it has the potential to wreak havoc on people's lives.
SREENIVASAN: Matthew, you chose to focus on a couple of patients. There was an incredibly compelling story of a nurse and a police officer. Tell us --
for people who haven't seen the film, tell us a little bit about them.
HEINEMAN: We're not just following from the healthy workers. We're following two patient stories. One, a COVID positive nurse who gave birth
and then was intubated. And then, a New York city cop who was deeply sick as well. And we had no idea whether they were going to live or die.
And I think one of the most difficult things of experiencing COVID as a patient and as a doctor, really, is how deeply isolating it was to be
making life and death decisions through an iPad or an iPhone. And, you know, so, it was really important for us to capture these stories, to be
able to go home with the family members who are struggling to just understand what was happening, to get pieces of information, to see their
loved ones gasping for air or intubated and asleep through a phone. I mean, it's just -- it was like a sort of strange sci-fi movie that we were living
in. And so, it was really important for us to show that aspect of the story as well.
SREENIVASAN: Doctor, you do have such -- a strong spirit, but in this film, I don't know if you see it the same way, but when we're watching it, we see
so many moments where that spirit is tested. But I wonder, now, when you look back at yourself, as Matthew captured you, what do you see?
DR. DOUGE: I see someone who's really struggling, grappling with, what's the purpose of life? You start questioning what is this suffering for? How
do we live fully in this society that we have? And you really start wondering, do I have enough to keep going?
I struggle with, do I still have that tenacity, the resilience to keep going through both before last year in terms of like just waking up to go
to work knowing the suffering, the frustration, the uncertainty, do I have that skill set to be resourceful, adaptable, to be that nurturing person
that we all desire, we crave, that sense of, I can relate to you no matter what our circumstances are? So, that spirit that I pride myself on to be
able to see people for themselves, who they are despite everything, with all that's going on and still working in health care, that spirit has been
taking hits continuously.
And the real thing that myself and a lot of my colleagues and other health care workers I had talked to were collectively trying to figure out how can
we rejuvenate ourselves and find our essence again of why we're still doing this.
SREENIVASAN: Matthew, we've spoken to different nurses, ICU nurses, travel nurses on this program over the past 20 months and I wonder if when you
were making this film, did you think that, here we are 20 months later, that we would still be having almost the same things that you witnessed in
New York playing out in other parts of America, in other ICU wards, whether it's in Alaska or in Idaho, has stressed today after we have vaccines
available to people?
HEINEMAN: Absolutely not. I mean, I think when we started filming, we naively thought it was going to be, you know, one or two weeks that we'd be
in the hospital. We were filming sort of, you know, 16 or 18 hours a day. Obviously, it continued for much longer. We ended up filming for, you know,
four or five months through the first wave, and of course, we're still living with it today.
And I think that's one of the greatest tragedies, is that for people like Dr. Douge who are risking lives -- who risked their lives during the first
wave without any tools at their disposal, without any vaccine, without any medicines, to walk into a hospital now and have people dying, who are
making a choice not to take a vaccine, you know, this is largely a disease of the unvaccinated right now in terms of those who are really getting sick
and really dying. And, you know, it's really, really, really sad to me how politicized COVID has become.
You know, it didn't have to be this way. It could have been something that brought our country together. And the fact that it became so politicized,
the fact that truth and science became so politicized is incredibly, incredibly sad to me.
SREENIVASAN: The other part of the film that I want to discuss real quickly is, Dr. Douge, here we are in the middle of the pandemic watching you deal
with these challenges. And here comes the George Floyd protests, here comes the sort of reckoning that the country starts to go through, and we see you
on a completely different set of front line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DOUGE: When we started chanting, I literally felt like my breath was stripped away. I also heard all the times my patients said, I can't
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, we need some help in here now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, stop. I have a pulse. I have a pulse right here. Pulse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DOUGE: I pride myself in respecting the essence of life, of living. I became a doctor to help people's quality of life, to have a fulfilling
life, both inside and outside of hospital walls and clinics. So, with the murder of George Floyd, I just felt like inside of these walls, I am doing
everything I can, and people are asking from me to do all that I can to help preserve life.
And then yet, the minute I walk outside these walls, I see like the blatant disrespect, the disregard for the life of black people. So, because it
wasn't just George Floyd. There was Breonna Taylor, there's a list goes on and on and on. And at that time, and still, I just couldn't be silent.
Because silence does a lot too. So, I just felt whatever I could do to advocate for people's life and their right to be able to live it, I had to
take part in the protests.
SREENIVASAN: And, Matthew, why was it important for you to put that aspect of this in the film?
HEINEMAN: With the killing of George Floyd and this national reckoning over race and this epidemic of racism in our country, which, obviously, is
integrally tied to this disproportionate impact of people of color with this disease, you know, it wasn't a question of sort of, if we were going
to include it in the film, sort of how, and it all came out naturally in following Dr. Douge.
SREENIVASAN: And finally, a question to both of you. Why do you want people to see this film? I mean, it is some of our darkest moments in American
history, both of these story lines. What was happening inside in the hospital and out on the streets? Dr. Douge, let me start with you.
DR. DOUGE: I want people to see it first because, for so long, I think the star of the pandemic has been the COVID-19 virus. It has been the
politicians. It has been the statistics. It has been all of these entities that people can't relate to, but it's the people. It is the person. It's
the names that force us to call into action.
When you are able to relate to something and apply it to your life, it then gives you a sense of urgency to like, OK. I can't be complacent anymore.
So, this film reiterates our human essence that collectively, when we work together, we can accomplish so much because we were able to, we survived
the first wave, the second wave. But the goal is to not have any more waves. But all of us have a part that we play. And this film is not just
about the trauma we endured, but it's about the happiness that we experienced, it's about the joy when we see people we connected with their
loved ones after going through it. It's about the support we can find in people we didn't know ever, like to see that we can relate to so many
people that don't necessarily look like us, but we can feel their struggles, their joys, their triumphs.
So, I want people to see this film, to see themselves or possibly their loved ones and know that we can do more, we can be better than what we are
HEINEMAN: I hope that the film provides a vehicle through which we can all reflect on what we've been through, take stock of where we are now, and
learn from and hopefully, do better as we move forward. And so, yes, it's been the greatest privilege of my career to be able to tell this story, to
be able to follow people like Dr. Douge. And I just -- I really hope that people watch this film and engage with this film and it creates a dialogue
in this country. So, thank you so much for having us on.
SREENIVASAN: Matthew Heineman, director and writer of "The First Wave," and Dr. Nathalie Douge, thank you both.
DR. DOUGE: Thank you.
HEINEMAN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, despite the darkness, Captain Cousteau reminded us early in the program that beauty is all around us, under the sea and, in
fact, on museum walls. What's believed to be the last self-portrait by the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, has shattered records at auction in New York.
"Diego and I" sold for almost $35 million. It's the highest price ever for a piece of Latin American art.
And with that, we end our program tonight. Good-bye from London. Thanks for watching.