SBS’ The Feed presents ‘Story Line’: stories from 6 months of COVID-19

The half-hour documentary is based on voice recordings from around the country. It premieres next week.

On 21 July, SBS The Feed will release ‘Story Line, a project compiling voice memos from Australians detailing their experiences in the six months since the WHO declared a global pandemic. The first spoken line in the documentary is, ‘Hello? Is anybody there?’ This sets the tone perfectly for this half-hour documentary, which is comprises stories collected via a dedicated phone line. It also takes a creative approach to filming, to make up for the impossibility of traditional filming: it combines archival footage and stock footage with the voice recordings, creating a collage of the last few months. 

Unlike much of the coronavirus media that has been released in 2020, this documentary has a positive focus. Each of these stories relay moments of hope that everyday people have experienced during the pandemic. The stories recounted range from key moments in Australia’s pandemic history, like Daniel Ou Yang’s experience watching the devastating rise of the virus in Wuhan, and his period of early quarantine on Christmas Island, or Table Tennis champion Michelle Bromley considering the future of the Olympics as the world shuts down country by country.

Daniel Ou Yang visiting family in Wuhan when the pandemic hit.

Many others stories are more relatable: One man outlines the complicated experience of celebrating Passover in lockdown, another worries for her mother, who was travelling in Peru. From love, loss, struggles with hoarding, and the tyranny (or blessing) of distance, these stories offer an intimate look at what life has been like for Australians everywhere, in a period when we have been physically more distant from each other than ever. 

The Feed’s Story Line will stream on SBS On Demand from 21 July. 

Jini Maxwell is a writer and curator who lives in Naarm. They are an assistant curator at ACMI, where they also host the Women & Non-binary gamers club. They write about videogames and the people who make them. You can find them on Twitter @astroblob