Five Days at Memorial: Apple TV+ release date, trailer, cast with Vera Farmiga - is it a true story?

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John Ridley and Carlton Cuse adapt journalist Sheri Fink’s book about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the doctors and patients in one New Orleans hospital

Five Days at Memorial, a limited series about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on one New Orleans hospital, is coming to Apple TV+ on Friday 12 August.

The series, which stars Vera Farmiga and Cherry Jones, follows a group of doctors and patients trapped inside Memorial Hospital after the hurricane and subsequent flooding. The series is based on a non-fiction book by the journalist Sheri Fink.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Five Days at Memorial.

What is Five Days at Memorial about?

Five Days at Memorial is about the doctors and patients trapped in Memorial Hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It charts their evacuation attempts and, gradually, the compromises they start to make – in particular the decision to start to euthanise patients they didn’t believe could be successfully evacuated.

The series dramatises both the days people were trapped inside Memorial Hospital, as well as the subsequent investigation into and the legal case brought against one of the lead surgeons at the hospital, Dr Anna Pou.

Is it based on a true story?

Yes, it is. The series is based on the non-fiction book Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, written by the journalist Sheri Fink.

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Anna Pou is a real person, as were a number of other individuals in the series. 45 bodies were found in Memorial medical centre, and Pou was arrested on suspicion of murder for euthanising patients.

Who stars in Five Days at Memorial?

Vera Farmiga as Dr Anna Pou in Five Days at memorial. She and a number of others in blue surgical scrubs stand watching the windows (Credit: Apple TV+)Vera Farmiga as Dr Anna Pou in Five Days at memorial. She and a number of others in blue surgical scrubs stand watching the windows (Credit: Apple TV+)
Vera Farmiga as Dr Anna Pou in Five Days at memorial. She and a number of others in blue surgical scrubs stand watching the windows (Credit: Apple TV+) | Apple TV+

Vera Farmiga stars as Dr Anna Pou, a senior surgeon at the hospital. Farmiga is best-known for the horror movie series The Conjuring, as well as the films Up in the Air and The Departed. On television, she had a starring role in Bates Motel, and recently played the villain in the Marvel series Hawkeye.

Cherry Jones plays Susan Mulderick, the crisis response lead at Memorial Hospital. Jones is best known for appearing in Angels in America, 24, and The West Wing; more recently, she’s appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale, Succession, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Michael Gaston plays Arthur Schafer, the attorney investigating Memorial Hospital. Gaston is perhaps most recognisable for roles in Prison Break, Jericho, and The Mentalist, but, as quite a prolific actor, has also appeared in The Leftovers, Elementary, The Good Wife, and The Sopranos amongst many other credits.

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They’re joined by Robert Pine (CHiPs), Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave), Cornelius Smith Jr (Scandal), and Julie Ann Emery (Preacher) amongst others.

Who writes and directs Five Days at Memorial?

The series was developed by Carlton Cuse and John Ridley, with the pair each writing and directing episodes of Five Days at Memorial. Cuse is best known for his work as one of the co-creators of Lost, while Ridley wrote the film 12 Years a Slave and the television series Guerilla.

Fink’s book was almost the basis for a series of American Crime Story – which would’ve been directed by Ryan Murphy and star Sarah Paulson as Anna Pou – but development on that series ultimately stalled.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, there is. You can watch it right here.

When is Five Days at Memorial being released?

The first three episodes of Five Days at Memorial will be released at once on Friday 12 August.

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The remaining episodes will air weekly after that, with the eighth and final episode being released on Friday 16 September.

How many episodes is Five Days at Memorial?

There are eight episodes to Five Days at Memorial. The first five episodes each cover an individual day in the hospital, while the final three episodes chart the aftermath of the decisions made there.

The episodes are between 40 and 55 minutes long.

Why should I watch Five Days at Memorial?

It’s a harrowing, uncompromising piece of drama, but remarkably well made.

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