Hold-up (2020), a Fremch film that makes a number of false claims about the Covid-19 pandemic


Hold-up is a 2020 independent pseudoscience propaganda film directed by French conspiracy theorist[1]Pierre Barnérias. The film makes a number of false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]Hold-Up was first released as a VoD on Vimeo 11 November 2020. Vimeo deleted the film the next day, citing the numerous lies in the film; DailyMotion likewise removed the film the next day.[3] The film continues to be spread on social media among QAnon supporters.

Hold-Up claims that a global conspiracy plot had been formed by the world’s elites, and particularly the World Economic Forum. According to the film, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was deliberately created for an excuse to enslave humanity. A full version of the documentary that remains online has been watched more than 2 000 000 times</ref> [1], while a trailer for Hold Up also remains visible on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.[4] All central claims of the film have been proven to be wrong, and the producers of the film have been shown to falsify their sources and misrepresent statements.[5]

Directed byPierre Barnérias
StarringMichael Levitt
Luc Montagnier
Christian Perronne
Laurent Toubiana
Martine Wonner



SOMA Disinfobservatory

All the lies spread by Hold-Up, the new French documentary!

December 1, 2020

The Sars-Cov-2 virus? It was created in a lab by the Pasteur Institute. Covid-19? Not so different from a common flu, all part of a plan organized by the economic powers to subdue humanity. And what about the World Health Organization? It is trying to cover up the greatest conspiracy in our history, by denying autopsies on dead bodies.

Hold-Up, Retour sur un chaos comes directly from France and it quickly turned into one of the main tools used by Covid-19 negationists to support their theories. It was produced through a crowdfunding campaign launched by Pierre Barnérias, a former journalist for the tv network Tf1 with a history in conspiracy documentaries: among his most popular works, in fact, we can mention A qui profite le flou (“Who’s taking advantage from the blur”) – a short film about the alleged manipulated narrative adopted by journalists in order to downsize the scale of a protest against same sex marriages – or M et le 3ème secret (“M and the third secret”), a doc about the Marian apparitions which, among other things, spreads unfounded theories about freemansory and communist plans.

Hold-Up was published online on November 11, 2020. It was initially posted on the video platform Vimeo, and it was then uploaded free of charge on Odysee – a streaming website which offers a specific section for conspiracy documentaries – after Vimeo decided to remove the content due to policy violations.

Even before its release, though, the doc had already caught the attention of French media by raising €180k through a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule.

Produced by Tprod and Tomawak, Hold-Up lasts about three hours and it promises to expose the «lies, corruption and manipulation» used by those allegedly responsible for the pandemic. The result is a potpourri of all the main points touched by conspiracy theorists who aim at denying the existence of an ongoing global health crisis.

What the documentary says

The main goal of Hold-Up is to discredit doctors, health authorities and political institutions that in the last couple of months have dealt with the health emergency in France.

As stated by the French weekly magazine L’Obs, the doc presents well-known data about the pandemic in an increasingly dramatic way, and alternates them with in-depth analysis of the contradictions that marked the management of the new coronavirus crisis.

Among other things, the doc focuses on hydroxychloroquine, an antirheumatic drug which was initially approved in France for the treatment of Covid-19 and then banned when a number of studies expressed doubts about its effectiveness and connected it with the insurgence of heart problems in patients.

The documentary also calls into question the consequences of protective masks, whose adoption is described as «not recommended by the Who.» This allegation refers to an old claim, and it’s worth noting that starting from June 2020 the Who considers masks as a valid measure when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus.

As explained by our colleagues at Check News, the fact-checking section of the French newspaper Libération, the main claim supported by the documentary comes into the picture only two hours after its beginning, and it is based on the revelation of a plan called “Great reset”, a global conspiracy managed by the Davos World Economic Forum with the goal of subduing humanity.

In order to do that, the world economic powers would have created in a lab a new virus – the coronavirus Sars-Cov-2 – responsible for a disease «not much more dangerous than an ordinary seasonal virus.»

The conspiracy theory about the “Great reset” reached Italy as well, where it obtained support from the radio station Radio Radio, well-known for its conspiratory tendencies; the philosopher and tv pundit Diego Fusaro; and the conspiracy influencer Cesare Sacchetti.

The documentary also presents several examples of disinformation linked to the pandemic, most of which have already been verified and debunked by fact-checkers around the world. For instance, the film mentions the great results obtained by the «Swedish model» in the management of the health crisis; the alleged ban posed by the Who on autopsies of Covid-19 deceased patients; and the Covid-19-related patents filed when the pandemic hadn’t even begun.

We link here the fact-checking analysis published by Libération, which verified the ten main claims presented by the documentary. Further debunking articles were published by France Culture, Le Parisien, Rtbf, Le Monde, Huffington Post, Le Figaro, FranceInfo and Afp

To conclude

As we already witnessed last July and August with the two chapters of the British video Plandemic, the French documentary Hold-Up quickly became popular among conspiracy theorists who deny the Covid-19 emergency.

Hold-Up lasts about three hours and it presents the main points adopted by negationists, from the alleged superiority of the “Swedish model” to the creation of the virus Sars-Cov-2 in a lab, outlining what is presented as a global conspiracy led by economic élites in order to subdue humanity through a virus which is actually harmless. It’s the “Great reset” theory, which became popular in Italy as well thanks to a number of disinformation channels.

The success of the documentary is due to several factors, identified by the French network Rtbf in the well-paced narration employed by the authors and the cast, which stars some of the most controversial French scientists and conspiracies supporters.

Six days after its release, the doc reached more than a million views on YouTube and was seen by 3 million people on the streaming platform Odyssee. At the moment, the film hasn’t been translated into Italian and, with the exception of Belgium, it seems that it is not circulating outside France.


French politicians and NGOs have severely criticised a new film “Hold Up” which features several debunked conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic.


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