Film documents Chandler in the pandemic The Chandler Arizonan

Film documents Chandler in the pandemic

Film documents Chandler in the pandemic
City News
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

A new documentary has been released online that profiles how Chandler leaders have been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hour-long “COVID-19 vs. Arizona – Our Stories” comprises interviews with elected officials, law enforcement officers and others.

Betty Ramirez, a local business owner and vice president of the Chandler International Film Festival, produced the documentary to provide Chandler residents a local perspective on how the city has reacted to the ongoing health crisis.

“The best thing you can do is just listen to people,” she said. “Everybody has a unique story.”

Chandler has spent the last five months struggling through a calamity that’s shut down schools, businesses and public buildings.

Ramirez’s film offers a glimpse inside the minds of local leaders and front-line workers who have had to make tough decisions and toil with the pandemic’s widespread impact.

Ramirez, who’s lived in Chandler for the last 14 years, said she wanted to offer an uplifting view on the pandemic with a film that offers a hopeful message.

The first-time filmmaker said she wants the documentary to spur viewers into action and think about how they can help their neighbors weather through the pandemic.

“We need to work together,” Ramirez said. “We have to work together to come out of this thing.”

The film features interviews with Mayor Kevin Hartke, Councilman Mark Stewart, Police Chief Sean Duggan, Fire Chief Tom Dwiggins and Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, who tested positive for COVID-19 in June, was also interviewed for the documentary. He’s earned much notoriety during the pandemic for defying Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order by refusing to enforce it.

“Wear a mask, stay at home until you are comfortable to come out,” Lamb says in the documentary. “But we have to get back to what we’re doing because if we don’t – we won’t have anything to go back to.”

Ramirez said she was interested in interviewing subjects who could offer a first-hand account of what it’s been like grappling with COVID-19 from a leadership position.

“Every single human is unique,” she said. “Everybody deals with this situation in a different way.”

Ramirez, a native of Mexico, admitted that she hasn’t always had much of an interest in filmmaking and envisioned producing a documentary.

Her family’s business, Zerimar Medical Equipment Services, has been staying busy throughout the pandemic repairing equipment that’s desperately needed to keep medical facilities open.

The thought of making a film during this hectic time hadn’t dawned on Ramirez until she began wondering how her friends and neighbors may be searching for some inspiration amid the pandemic.

The public probably wants to know from their leaders what’s really going on, Ramirez said, and a documentary could be the perfect medium for delivering that message.

The filmmaking experience has now inspired her to consider producing more videos on other topics she’s passionate about.

“I’m not the type of person to just stay home,” Ramirez said. “You need to go out and see how you can help people.”

Ramirez said any proceeds made from “COVID-19 vs. Arizona” will be donated to the Chandler International Film Festival, which intends to host its next annual event in late January. The documentary can be screened on Vimeo.com for $10.

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