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In the early days of the pandemic there was panic, uncertainty; chaos. An election year where the discussions should have centered around who is best to lead the nation over the next four-years, became ravaged with fear and angst as Americans worried about what lay ahead.

The COVID Diaries NYC, premiering tonight (9:00-9:40 p.m. ET), chronicles the lives of five young filmmakers, ranging from 17 to 21, who turn their cameras on themselves to capture and tell their stories. This deeply personal film illuminates the plight of essential workers and their families during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis as they navigate the deadly virus and a country riven by social upheaval.

Directed by Marcial Pilataxi, Arcelie Colón, Camille Dianand, Shane Fleming, Arlet Guallpa, and with original animation by fellow director, Rosemary Colón-Martinez. These diaries, composed of five brave first-person profiles, are at times heart wrenching but also profoundly insightful. These young directors are open with their experiences as they process the impacts and uncertainty brought forth a global enemy.

The Only Way to Live in Manhattan” follows Marcial Pilataxi, who lives with and helps his grandmother at a building where she works as the superintendent. They wrestle with the increasing amounts of tenants’ garbage because of those sheltering at home. Marcial makes food deliveries and tries to maintain normalcy with his friends as the city he knows changes against the backdrop of the pandemic and a city torn apart by unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

My COVID Breakdown” follows Aracelie Colón, who struggles with her mental health as her father continues to go to work at the post office every day while the threat of the virus looms.

When My Dad Got COVID” follows Camille Dianand, who is concerned about her father, a subway mechanic for the MTA. After a coworker dies from the virus, her father contracts COVID-19 and the family faces life and death terror.

No Escape From New York” follows Shane Fleming, whose parents lose their jobs, leaving the family worrying about mounting bills, growing debt and their need to move out of New York City. They decide to go on a road trip to escape their problems, but the issues his mother and father face follow them wherever they go.

Frontline Family” follows Arlet Guallpa, who watches with her family as an ambulance arrives at their apartment building in Washington Heights to take away residents who die from the virus. Despite their fears, her parents, a bus driver and home care attendant, carry on with work and try to overcome their anxieties about their family’s exposure.

The film will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.