In the Shadow of Ebola

A Liberian student, his family and a nation torn apart by the Ebola outbreak find inner resolve to combat the virus’s spread.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
June 22, 2015
23 minutes
In the Shadow of Ebola director, Sarita, with a camera and mic.

Sarita Siegel

With an educational background in physical anthropology and religion, Sarita Siegel gravitates to stories that lie at the intersection of cultural worlds. Siegel established Alchemy Films with Taggart Siegel in San Francisco in 1994. She wrote, directed, and produced Destroying Angel (1995) and The Beloved (1997). In 2002, she co-produced The Show more Split Horn, a one-hour special for PBS, and wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning The Disenchanted Forest for National Geographic. Siegel was an associate producer for The Real Dirt on Farmer John (Independent Lens, 2006) and produced, directed, filmed, and edited Fire Burn Babylon, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary, Freestyle Life Film Festival 2012; Bronze Palm Award, Mexico International Film Festival 2010; and an honorable mention at the COMMFEST MADA Awards, Toronto. Siegel directed and produced The Land Beneath Our Feet (2016) Siegel is currently developing Outspoken, a documentary that highlights conscious MCs from around the globe who use rap poetry to defend political freedoms and human rights and An Evidence-Based Quest a COVID-19 investigation. Show less


Gregg Mitman

Trained in ecology, environmental history, and the history of science and medicine, Gregg Mitman is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and teacher, whose work explores the changing relationships between people and environments over time. Mitman holds a distinguished research chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the recipient of Show more fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among others, and has spent the past decade investigating the history of American biomedical research in Liberia. Mitman is founder and director of Madison’s popular environmental film festival, Tales from Planet Earth, and has taught environmental film production with award-winning filmmakers including Judith Helfand, Alex Rivera, and Sarita Siegel. Mitman was Executive Producer on Fire Burn Babylon, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary, Freestyle Life Film Festival 2012; Bronze Palm Award, Mexico International Film Festival 2010; and Honorable Mention at the COMMFFEST MADA Awards, Toronto 2011. The trailer for Mitman’s new film A Film Never Made won the 2014 International FOCAL Award for the best use of archival in a short production. Show less

In the Shadow of Ebola filmmaker Alex with a camera.

Alexander Wiaplah

Alexander Wiaplah (Ush) worked as the production manager for Liberia Broadcasting System National Television Station, the state broadcaster of Liberia, which was closed for 15 years during Liberia’s civil war.Over the last six years, Alex has been working on a series of international and national projects, which include documentaries, television Show more shows, and music videos. Over the past two years, he has been camera operator and cinematographer on film shoots in Liberia for A Film Never Made.Alex is one of the founders and CEOs of Kreative Mindz Studio, where he has also worked as a cameraman, producer, director and an editor. In addition, he has worked for some of the top broadcast stations worldwide, including CNN, NBC News, ARD TV, and ITN Channel 4. Show less

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The Film

In the Shadow of Ebola is an intimate story of a family struggling against the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, a country that had recently come out from the chaos of a 14-year civil war.

We follow Liberian student Emmanuel and his family living divided between Wisconsin in the United States, and Liberia. As the crisis unfolds, loved ones are isolated in Monrovia where the government is shut down, schools and markets are closed, and food prices are rising.

With the civil war still a fresh memory after a mere decade, many citizens find themselves distrustful of the Liberian government’s response to the crisis, which initially involved military-enforced quarantines and curfews. Emmanuel tries to get the rest of his family out of the country as the death toll from Ebola climbs and international aid slow to arrive.