A nightmare unfolds at sea in “The Last Cruise,” Hannah Olson’s short doc revisiting the early days of COVID-19 and the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship’s ill-fated journey from Yokohama, Japan. The ship set sail January 20, 2020, and by February 26, 2020, it accounted for more than half of all the documented COVID-19 cases outside of China. More than 700 people on board were infected. The Diamond Princess ultimately ended up back in Yokohama, quarantined and the center of an international spectacle.
A trailer for the doc sees passengers and crew members responding to the mysterious illness. One passenger remembers thinking COVID-19 was “still not a big deal” when he first boarded the ship. “There’s always something going on,” he recalls thinking. “I will wash my hands.”
As the situation escalates, the Captain orders passengers to quarantine in their rooms for “at least 14 days.” Meanwhile, the crew “had to keep the ship going.” One crew member reveals that they “felt like only the rich would be taken care of.”
Olson most recently directed “Baby God,” a doc about Dr. Quincy Fortier, who secretly used his own sperm to inseminate his fertility patients.
“I think there is an idea, especially for women working in television, that if you work hard enough, long enough for a production company, someone will let you direct something. This is not true. Nothing is given out,” Olson told us. “The advice I wish I had received is when you’re coming up in this industry, your IP is your most valuable currency. Do not give your ideas away.”
Olson urged fellow women directors to “share financial information with one another. Some people think it’s gauche but I think it’s extremely important. We know for a fact that we aren’t paid equally. And the patriarchy pits us against one another, furthering the chance that we’ll be isolated in our financial negotiations and therefore paid unfairly. The more united we are, and the more information we can share with one another, the better chance we have of being paid fairly,” she explained.
“The Last Cruise” debuts March 30 on HBO and will also be available to stream on HBO Max.