Bearing Witness Triptych: Just Breathe the Air

Our short film is based on a found poem by Jack Cochran, extracted from Trump’s remarks about the COVID pandemic, recorded by Bob Woodward and shared with interviewers during pre-release publicity for his book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” The poem repeats three times, first spoken by Trump, then shown as text, and finally spoken by the poet, who bears witness to the consequences of Trump’s decision to play down the danger, even though he knew very early just how dangerous the virus would be.

Director: Jack Cochran, Pamela Falkenberg
Length: 03:58
Country: United States
Language: English
Year: 2020

Additional Info

Director Biography:

Pam is an independent filmmaker who received her PhD from the University of Iowa and taught at Northern Illinois University, St.Mary's College, and the University of Notre Dame. She directed the largest student film society in the US while she was at the University of Iowa, and also ran films series for the Snite Museum of Art in South Bend, IN. Her experimental film with Dan Curry, Open Territory, received an individual filmmaker grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from the Center for New Television and the Indiana Arts Council. OT screened at the Pacific Film Archives, as well at numerous film festivals, including the AFI Video Festival, and was nominated for a regional Emmy. Her other films include museum installations, scholarly/academic hybrid works shown at film conferences, and a documentary commissioned by the Peace Institute at the University of Notre Dame. She is an occasional contributor to Moving Poems Magazine (http://discussion.movingpoems.com/). Jack is an independent filmmaker who has produced, directed, or shot a variety of experimental and personal projects. As a DP he has extensive experience shooting commercials, independent features, and documentaries. His varied commercial client list includes BMW, Ford, Nissan, Fujifilm, Iomega, Corum Watches, and Forte Hotels. His features and documentaries have shown at the Sundance, Raindance, Telluride, Tribeca, Edinburgh, Chicago, Houston, and Taos film Festivals, winning several honors. His commercials and documentaries have won Silver Lions from Cannes, a BAFTA (British Academy Award), Peabody Awards, and Cable Aces. Some notable credits: Director of Photography on Brian Griffin's Claustrofoamia, Cinematography for Antony Thomas’ Tank Man, Director/Cinematographer of Viento Nocturno, and Cinematographer of Ramin Niami’s feature film Paris. Jack was trained at the University of Iowa Creative Writers Workshop as well as the University of Iowa film studies program.

Director Statement: The impetus for our film was the shock we experienced when we heard the excerpts from tapes Woodward recorded for his book about Donald Trump, and released during interviews during his promotional book tour. We were shocked to learn that Trump knew very early just how dangerous and easily transmissible the COVID19 virus was, but kept that information from the American public. By the time we heard the tapes, the bungled response that downplayed the virus in an attempt to protect stock market results and Trump’s reelection campaign rather than American lives had resulted in more deaths per capita than almost every other county in the world. We used found footage to supplement the footage we could shoot during the lockdown to tell our story, which is based on the found poem that Jack Cochran extracted from the the Woodward tapes. The resulting experimental film repeats the poem three times, once in Trump’s own words, once in English text, and once as read by the poet. .

Producer: Pamela Falkenberg
Writer: Jack Cochrang

Making Of