'Unseen Enemy' premiere: Elon alumna helps craft CNN documentary exploring global pandemic 

CNN's newest documentary, "Unseen Enemy," was edited by Erin Barnett, a 2009 Elon graduate whose previous documentary work includes "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine." 

Erin Barnett, a 2009 School of Communications graduate and accomplished documentary editor, has played a major role in shaping “Unseen Enemy,” the newest documentary from CNN that focuses on the potential looming crisis of disease pandemics and premiered April 7. 

CNN's new documentary "Unseen Enemy" will premiere on the network on Friday, April 7, at 
​Barnett, who majored in broadcast communications, spent much of 2016 editing the documentary, which is narrated by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright and is written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Janet Tobias. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, and philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen hav served as executive producers for the film. 

The documentary investigates whether the world is prepared for fighting epidemics that could lead to a pandemic by looking at recent outbreaks of the Ebola, Zika and influenza viruses. That exploration included embedding with some of the world’s top pathogen hunters and medical professionals during a three-year period, with the filmmakers traveling to Brazil, West Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe.

“My big take away from these stories and all my time on the project is that we’re woefully unprepared for a major pandemic and that we all need to start thinking about what we can do as individuals to foster better preparedness,” Barnett said in a note to friends and supporters about the premiere. 

​In the documentary, Tobias makes the case that it will take the coordinated efforts of medical professionals, researchers, governments, communicators and the public to successfully contain these deadly outbreaks. The public plays an essential role in the fight to contain and eradicate diseases like Ebola, Zika, and influenza,” said Gupta in a release about his engagement in producing the documentary. “It’s always been my goal to bring the best scientific and medical information to viewers so they can make informed decisions that improve their health. The situation is urgent, but information can help make us less vulnerable.”

The documentary premiered on World Health Day, with encore broadcasts on Saturday, April 15, at 9 p.m. and Sunday, April 16, at 2 a.m. The film will be available the day after the premiere (Saturday, April 8) via CNNgo.  For additional information about the film and other ways to watch it, please visit: www.takesallofus.com.

Barnett has been active in the documentary world since graduating from Elon, having worked as a key member of the creative team on Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” from Magnolia Pictures. Other projects include “Food Chains” from Ro*co Films and “(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies” from Bond 360.

While at Elon, Barnett completed two films — Bridging the Digital Divide,” shot at the first-ever global Internet Governance Forum for Imagining the Internet, and “My Name is Anita,” about Namibian AIDS activist Anita Isaacs for Elon’s Project Pericles.