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The Waiting Room (Peter Nicks | USA | 80 min.)
The American medical system is in tatters, and political arguments often overlook the most fundamental element: human beings’ health. Director Peter Nicks knew the problems would be most evident, the drama most poignant, in one place: a low-income, urgent care waiting room. This elegantly crafted documentary has an intimate approach that reveals the myriad systematic failures in a way that is compelling and personal. You can’t watch The Waiting Room and still ignore the call for change. Working with The Fledging Fund, the Center for Health Media Policy, and the film’s own interactive website, Rooftop Films is pleased to present this event committed to positive health care activism.
Opponents of federal health care would have us believe that hospital workers are incompetent, callous bureaucrats, that patients are lazy freeloaders—but that’s clearly not the case. The doctors make heroic efforts with limited resources, displaying remarkable bedside manners. The staff stand up for their most destitute constituents. The patients suffer and struggle, carrying burdens that could befall anyone. One man with a bullet lodged in his leg waits for hours, praying not that his pain is taken away, but his anger.
Nicks uses carefully interwoven voice-overs to provide context, while the film absorbs you in the action: the intensity of a doctor on his first day dealing with a deadly accident; the complexity of the staff negotiating the churn of beds overflowing into hallways; the unlikely humor of a nurse who consistently entertains and keeps everyone sane. As stressful as the situation is, for the viewer it’s wondrous to watch remarkable people acting nobly. The Waiting Room is an astonishing work of cinema that America needs to see, a clear expression of the dire problems and the hopeful possibilities.
- Mark Elijah Rosenberg