NEON to Release Alumna Directed and Produced Film about Government Response to COVID-19

BY Cody Beltis , October 5, 2020

The documentary, Totally Under Control, chronicling the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, co-directed and produced by alumna Ophelia Harutyunyan15, with Alex Gibney and Suzanne Hillinger also directing, will be released by NEON this month. Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for NEON with Nick Shumaker from UTA Independent Film Group and Jackie Eckhouse from Sloss Eckhouse LLP on behalf of the filmmakers.


Totally Under Control is an exposé, made with an apposite muckraker approach, which informs about the inadequate government response to the COVID-19 pandemic by informing viewers of the clear guidelines put in place during past pandemics. “At this moment 190,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. The carelessly designed lockdowns and their long-lasting economic effects have led to massive job losses, widespread hunger, dislocation, and a runaway federal deficit,” according to a press release about the film. 


“With damning testimony from public health officials and hard investigative reporting, Gibney exposes a system-wide collapse caused by a profound dereliction of Presidential leadership,” the Press Release stated. “It will be a generation before we know the full extent of the damage wrought by this pandemic, but Totally Under Control will stand as the definitive account of the Trump administration’s incompetence, corruption and denial in the face of this global pandemic.” 


In an interview, Gibney said, “With an extraordinary team of collaborators, I was compelled to mount this production when I saw the scale of incompetence and political corruption by the Trump Administration in the face of a global pandemic. Now we know that by Feb. 7, Trump knew that COVID was, in his words, ‘a deadly virus.’ But instead of working to protect the American people by containing the virus, the current administration was willfully blind to the growing contagion.” 


Harutyunyan is an Armenian filmmaker based out of New York with a combined fiction and documentary background, sharing her time between Armenia and the USA. Her films have played at major film festivals including Sundance, TIFF, Clermont-Ferrand, Raindance, Woodstock, Austin Film Festival. Red Apples, a short film she wrote and produced, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and played at a number of other international film festivals, winning the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short at Florida Film Festival, and qualifying for the Oscars, Artist Award at Odense Film Festival, and the Audience Award at Austin Film Festival. Currently, Harutyunyan has produced Crazy, Not Insane and associate produced Citizen-K for Oscar winning documentarian Alex Gibney. 

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