Florida Teen Who Lost Grandparents To COVID-19 Profiled In New Film

TALLAHASSEE – Against the backdrop of one million coronavirus deaths globally and with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stoking fears of a resurgence with an order to reopen bars and restaurants, a Tallahassee teenager reflects on the life and loss to coronavirus of her grandparents. In  “Maddie’s Grandparents: A Preventable Covid Tragedy,” a new short film by Brave New Films, Maddie Kaji and her father Arjun tell of her loving grandfather: his incredible life as an immigrant OB/GYN who was devoted to his family and brought “birthing rooms” to his US practice. Maddie’s grandfather, Vikram Hiralal Kaji, contracted COVID-19 while in an assisted living facility with his wife, Maddie’s grandmother, who also tested positive. Within three months of Vikram’s death, her grandmother, Andrea Todd Lewis Kaji, died as well.

Maddie and her father Arjun not only battle grief, but the numbness and anonymity that accompanies mind-numbing large losses, like one million dead from COVID-19, and the heartbreak of grappling with a seemingly preventable loss. Maddie in particular describes her “anger” at the thoughtless rhetoric and the stubborn inaction of President Trump and Gov. DeSantis that she believes contributed to her grandparents’ deaths. 

“I saw this op-ed [Gov. Ron DeSantis] wrote about how we can’t close school sports because kids need to bond, Kids need to bond? Kids need to live,” Maddie says in the film. She calls on political leaders to “do something” like a nationwide mask mandate.

Produced by Brave New Films, “Maddie’s Grandparents” ends with a call to “vote like your life depends on it.” In recent weeks, leading Florida organizations —especially those representing seniors and people of color— have urged Floridians to make a plan to vote safely and early. Florida’s voting registration deadline is Oct. 5, 2020. The deadline to request absentee ballots is October 24. Learn more and check your voter registration at vote.org

ABOUT BRAVE NEW FILMS Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films (BNF) are at the forefront of the fight to create a just America. Greenwald and BNF create free documentary films that inform the public, challenge corporate media, and motivate people to take action on social issues nationwide. Brave New Films’ investigative films have shined a light on the Bush, Obama and Trump administration, voter suppression, U.S. drone strikes, the prosecution of whistleblowers, and Wal Mart’s corporate practices. BNF’s mission is to champion social justice issues by using a model of media, education, and grassroots volunteer involvement that inspires, empowers, motivates and teaches civic participation and makes a difference.


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