When a Hospital Emergency Unexpectedly Becomes Part of The Documentary…

Flash back to Saturday July 28th: It’s one day before Eve, Hubert and Vivian -the Canadian family we’re following on their odyssey to China – is set to board the plane to Beijing. The Canadian crew is ready to film their frantic last packing and airport departure. Co-director Changfu Chang and his Chinese crew is awaiting their arrival on the other side of the planet. The orphanage is ready to welcome back the baby they released to Eve and Hubert fifteen years earlier. And then –  a call from Hubert at 8:15 am from a Toronto hospital. This can’t be good.

It turns out the stomach distress Eve started feeling a day earlier got drastically worse fast. An emergency room visit reveals diverticulitis, a situation that gets her immediately admitted to the hospital.  The shoot we had planned to do the next day at the airport is transformed to a hospital shoot, with an update on Eve’s health and the trip’s potential cancellation.

Flash forward to Wednesday August 4th: The good news? Eve is healing well and no surgery will be needed.  The bad news? Any travel in the next three weeks is totally out of the question. The news brings tears to Eve and Vivian: that’s the entire time frame for the family’s trip to China…

A hard decision: So where do we go from here?  Friends offer to stay with Eve so Hubert and Vivian can make the trip alone. But Vivian, Hubert and Eve would much prefer to go with Eve and make this important trip as a family. And as documentary filmmakers, we think that Hubert and Vivian can tell the story, although ideally, we’d love all three to go. The film is in large part Vivian’s story, but it’s a family’s story.

But waiting until Hubert can take time off work again means postponing the trip to October. Vivian would then have to miss two weeks of school- and while that sounds like cause for cheers for some students, it makes her very worried about being able to catch up to her classmates. Then, the film crew would have to be rescheduled,  and our delivery to our broadcaster would be two months late. The entire schedule we spent weeks building and organizing would need to be remade. And at a personal level, the family near Jiujiang who also adopted an abandoned girl and who plan to share their lives with Vivian’s family will need to rearrange their lives for the fall filming.

After both Vivian’s family and directors Changfu and Maureen give it a great deal of thought, the decision is to have Vivian and Hubert go on the trip without Eve. They’ll leave this Sunday, August 9th, making the trip shorter than originally planned.  It’s a tough choiceall around but one small addition will make it a little easier for Eve: Vivian will do a video letter to her Mom each evening- and when possible on the trip, try to upload them to her mother.

That’s a peek into what happens behind the scenes when an emergency happens in front of the lens. And now, one week later than intended, the adventure in China should begin.

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