Last year, as the pandemic and protests against police violence gripped the city, five filmmakers—aged 17 to 21—documented how the sudden, sweeping changes and uncertain new climate that COVID had wrought affected their lives. HBO will now air the vignettes as a short film called COVID Diaries NYC, debuting March 9th.

While some New Yorkers have had the luxury of not only keeping their jobs during this time, but working remotely, this is the story of the many who have been on the frontlines. The young filmmakers all live with family members who are essential workers — throughout, you'll meet two MTA workers, a postal worker, a caretaker, an elderly building super, and a (furloughed) teacher and restaurant manager (the latter are a married couple who flee the city after losing their paychecks).

The whole program runs about 40 minutes but offers a personal and visceral glimpse at deep-seated systemic inequities, the daily heroic efforts of essential workers, and the lives lived in constant fear as the sounds of sirens enveloped the city.