Watch this poignant, poetic film about life after isolation

In short film This Now, spoken word artist Kai-Isaiah Jamal and filmmaker Emily McDonald present a hopeful, unifying message for a post-coronavirus future, ending Dazed’s Alone Together campaign

I have awoke into enough mornings of the same, to enough passing days to have gathered a hunger for change,” Kai-Isaiah Jamal says in the opening of “This Now”, an original poem and short film about our collective time in isolation. As the spoken word artist speaks, the visuals cycle through a compilation of self-shot mobile phone footage from over 40 people currently in self-isolation. We see open windows and peeking faces, walks through high-rise blocks and rural thickets, dinners by candlelight, empty London streets. 

Across the poem, Kai reflects on our time in coronavirus quarantine, the lessons learned in valuing IRL connections and human touch, the moments of interconnectivity we’ve found, despite the world’s pain, distance and uncertainty, with the URL and close quarters. “This Now” is about what we took for granted and what we cherish, what we’ll shed in a post-pandemic life and what we’ll take into the future. With filmmaker Emily McDonald, the collaborators offer a hopeful message of unity despite the now, the political and social turbulence. When we emerge, there’s a fire for change: “Careless is a word I’m removing from my throat”.

Today we’re rounding off our editorial campaign Alone Together, which continued the creative dialogue through lockdown. We gave away our spring summer issue covered by Billie Eilish away to readers for free, we Zoom-ed with Louis Theroux and Rebecca Black, while Benji B, Erol Alkan, Sherelle, LCY, and Tygapaw brought house, techno, and disco to bumping IG live DJ sets, and Charli XCX shared her intimate diary from the first weeks of quarantine as she worked on her album how i’m feeling now. In the Class of Covid-19 video series, young people from across the world shared their thoughts on graduating amid a global crisis and how they were looking after their mental health, while healthcare and essential workers detailed the intense iteration of life and work on the frontlines of the pandemic. Chefs DeadHungry and Kelis gave us culinary delights to impress our Zoom dates and break up quarantine boredom. Creatives from New York, Lagos, Delhi, and Beijing let us in on their lockdown times and how they were making art through it. 35 artists contributed work to our poster campaign, from Wolfgang Tillmans, to Vivienne Westwood3DKatharine Hamnett, and Samuel Ross, raising money for Barts Charity to support NHS staff.

As lockdown lifts on different patches of the world, we begin to reflect on what’s next. “Collective and creative organisation on a grassroots level will be the potential network through which future economies, based on a society of care and compassion, can be built,” Dazed’s co-founder Jefferson Hack wrote. In his expansive essay A plague survival guide – what’s next for society?, Sean Monahan provided a striking cultural analysis that reflected on the HIV/Aids crisis and how these moments can break down and build up the world order. “I think now that the power to imagine, put to the test by a plague, is the strongest tool we can deploy,” as author and filmmaker David France said.

In the future, when we’re physically able to be with each other again, we’ll want an archive of this era, this strange societal and cultural reset, that tells of community, hopefulness, and creativity – we hope this was part of it. We’ve been alone, but we’re always been together. 

Photography Vic Lentaigne