Woodwind cinematographer Nicolas Joray has successfully recovered from COVID-19, while living at his home base near the epicentre of the coronavirus in Bergamo, Italy but on the Swiss side of the border.
Despite being identified in the high risk age of over 65-years by the government, Joray fought the virus himself after picking it up in late March 2020 and chose to quarantine at home during the peak period of the pandemic when hospitals were overwhelmed in Italy.
“We have two worlds completely separated in our house. Strictly no direct contact. We only communicate over the phone or wearing a mask and a safety distance of at least two metres,” said Joray soon after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I stay on another floor in a room, fortunately we have a second toilet which is my bathroom. Ingrid [Nicolas’ wife] cooks food once a day and deposits it in front of the room door and then later she takes it back with gloves. I sterilize my hands and wear a mask before leaving my room.
“Ingrid had to be in quarantine for 10 days. A neighbour went shopping for us. The government [had] decided people over 65 were not allowed to go out. I still have to wait for the last symptoms to disappear. My breathing is okay, no more fever,” said Joray a few days before he finally did pass the period and fully recovered.
Joray lives on the mountain, keeping himself fit as an avid climber and being a former swimmer also helped him recover his breathing without any hospital equipment.
The cinematographer has traveled around the world to shoot movies and documentaries. While many cast and crew members found conditions on the set of Woodwind challenging in India in the Himalayas and in Varanasi, Joray was one of the strongest. The Swiss DOP enjoyed the local food, didn’t get the Delhi belly (a famous food bug in India) and was quite fit when up against the physical demands of shooting on mountains, rivers and in the Indian jungle.
Now, during the coronavirus epidemic in Europe, Joray reminds us of how conditions are worse near his home and provides us with advice of his own.
“My daughter is working in a Swiss hospital 10 km from the Italian border. There it is really hell on earth with all these decisions, who will survive and who will pass away. Death don’t have mercy in this land. Be careful but don’t lose hope. Every storm slows down. Now, I am nearly perfect. I would still not walk 1000m straight up the mountain but I’m able to cut wood and do gardening so everything is okay and it is a nice feeling.”
According to the official Covid-19 statistics to date, there were nearly 31,000 and 1561 deaths in Italy and Switzerland respectively.
Joray’s movie Woodwind, which he shot as the cinematographer in India and South Africa, was due to be released soon on Amazon online and on Prime. The lockdown’s across Europe and the United States have caused a processing queue which is expected to delay the release on these platforms by a few months.