Fauci: Docu about Man of the Hours–Public Servant, Scientist, Physician, Family

Fauci offers a portrait of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a public servant, scientist, physician, husband and father whose career spans seven presidents and bookended by two pandemics: HIV/AIDS, which shaped him, and COVID-19, which has tested him beyond all expectations.

With his signature blend of scientific acumen, candor and integrity, Dr. Anthony Fauci became America’s most unlikely cultural icon during the COVID-19 pandemic. A world-renowned infectious disease specialist and the longest-serving public health leader in Washington, D.C., he has valiantly overseen the U.S. response to 40 years’ worth of outbreaks, including HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola. Crafted around unprecedented access to Dr. Fauci, FAUCI is a revealing portrait of one of our most dedicated public servants, whose work saved millions.

Directed by Emmy winners John Hoffman (“The Weight of the Nation,” “Sleepless in America”) and Janet Tobias (“No Place on Earth,” “Unseen Enemy”), the film is produced by Alexandra Moss (“Not Done: Women Remaking America,” “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman”), and executive produced by Academy Award winner Dan Cogan (“Icarus”) and two-time Academy Award nominee Liz Garbus (“What Happened, Miss Simone?,” “The Farm: Angola, USA”).

The documentary traces the most defining and challenging moments of this remarkable man’s life and career. Dr. Anthony Fauci first understood the power of medicine working at his parents’ pharmacy while growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Dr. Fauci took to clinical medicine during his internship and residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and arrived at the National Institutes of Health as a clinical fellow in 1968. In 1981, shortly after the first early scientific reports of a mysterious new disease that would eventually become known as HIV/AIDS, Dr. Fauci switched tracks from his very successful research into treatments for vasculitis and other autoimmune disorders to the new disease that had at first stricken the gay community, IV drug users and hemophiliacs, but would later expand its foothold within many populations here in the United States, and become endemic in many parts of the world. By 1984, Dr. Fauci had become the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position that he still holds, but he insisted on maintaining both his lab and his medical practice, treating patients at the NIH Clinical Center, the world’s largest hospital devoted solely to research.

Initially vilified by the growing community of AIDS activists for moving too slowly to find treatments, Dr. Fauci was one of the few scientists to reach out to the largest activist group, ACT UP, in an effort to understand their concerns and work with them to set the research agenda in a way that served the needs of people with AIDS, indelibly transforming the clinical trial process.

He built bridges where other scientists put up walls and eventually won the respect and deep friendship of many of those activists who had called him a murderer, demanded his removal, and stormed the NIH in protest.

His friendships with both Larry Kramer and Peter Staley were and are profoundly important to him. Peter Staley remained an adviser and confidant to Dr. Fauci during the immensely stressful experience of battling COVID-19.

Dr. Fauci describes the “dark years” of AIDS, when there were no successful treatments and caring for people with AIDS meant doctors and nurses were essentially hospice workers, as one of the most difficult periods in his life. He says that he has PTSD as a result of all the deaths he could not prevent and the feeling of helplessness he and other front-line health workers felt in the face of a terrible disease that was killing young people in their prime.

But even Dr. Fauci would say that the past year-and-a-half, which the film also documents, has been significantly more disturbing. In his role as the leader of the nation’s infectious disease research institute, he carries the burden of responsibility for the health of the entire nation during outbreaks and pandemics. He has suffered greatly from the hyper-politicized and divisive environment in which we are now living, in terms of the emotional stress it’s placed on him, its impact on his ability to do his already difficult job effectively, and the untold number of threats to his life and safety, as well as to that of his wife and three daughters.

The film features insights from former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Bono, former national security advisor Susan Rice, National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden, journalists Laurie Garrett and The New York Times’ Apoorva Mandavilli, and key AIDS activists, among others. Dr. Fauci’s family, friends and former patients also provide more personal commentary about the man, his personality, and what makes him who he is.

Dr. Fauci’s life is bound by the two great pandemics of our time. The dark early years of HIV/AIDS forged his character, while COVID-19 tested it. Confronting HIV/AIDS — and welcoming public scrutiny — allowed him to approach COVID-19 with an incredible body of experience and knowledge about infectious diseases, politics, human nature and what it takes to get things done.

“Our film is a portrait of a focused doctor, scientist and leader hurrying to save lives in 2020 and 2021. In the process, this veteran of five previous administrations contended with a president who publicly and consistently contradicted his public health advice.”

Still, Dr. Fauci never wavered from the truth that science would be critical in ending this global health crisis. He combines heart and mind in a singular way, thinking about the wellbeing of America — and the world — the same way he would when caring for any individual patient

At the same time that Dr. Fauci was sometimes under attack from the government that employed him, so were many other public servants.

“We wanted to explore what public service means in a very divisive nation, when the goal of fighting a common enemy requires people on all sides to come together.”

Dr. Fauci has worked at the National Institutes of Health for over 50 years, providing an unparalleled contribution to the health and welfare of America. In a world of hardworking people, he is likely the hardest working person we’ve ever had the privilege to observe, well known for working 12-hour days, six to seven days a week, over the course of decades. As directors, we were inspired to elevate the career path of public service by shining a spotlight on perhaps the greatest public servant of our time.

FAUCI also offers a never-before-seen look at the man within the lab coat. Audiences will see him as so much more than who he is behind the press conference podium or testifying before Congress: the feistiness imbued by his Brooklyn upbringing, the loyalty he’s displayed over the years to friends — and former adversaries — and even get a taste of how funny (and loving) he is as a dad.

“Our hope is that those who’ve questioned Dr. Fauci will watch the documentary, too. Perhaps even Fauci critics will discover that he is as multidimensional as they are and worthy of their time and understanding.

 

FILM INTERVIEWEES

David Barr, former director of treatment education and advocacy at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis

Bono, legendary U2 singer-songwriter and activist, co-founder of (RED)

President George W. Bush, United States’ 43rd commander in chief

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Dr. David Dale, oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Washington

Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009-2017)

Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer-Prize-winning health journalist and bestselling author

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

 Dr. Christine Grady, chief of the Department of Bioethics, NIH Clinical Center

Jenny Fauci, eldest daughter of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Christine Grady

Dr. Clifford Lane, deputy director for Clinical Research and Special Projects, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Apoorva Mandavilli, award-winning science and global health reporter for The New York Times

Michael Manganiello, health policy advocate and CEO of Pyxis Partners

Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, pediatrician and global leader in HIV/AIDS research, president of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences

Susan Rice, director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2009-2013) and former U.S. national security advisor (2013-2017)

Peter Staley, activist, most recognized for his monumental impact on the HIV/AIDS movement

Robert Vazquez-Pacheco, artist, writer, HIV/AIDS activist, community organizer

Wakefield, human rights and HIV/AIDS activist