I say screw the abundance of fictional hospital-set medical dramas and see this documentary feature instead which has all the drama served up non-scripted style.
It’s called The Waiting Room, an ITVS-funded, character-driven, cinema verité doc that, thanks to unprecendented access, takes the viewer inside the doors of an ER at an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients.
It promises a raw, intimate, and uplifting look at how patients, caregivers and hospital staff deal with each other, illness, bureaucracy and hard choices.
The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession. The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution coping with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. It is a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together as humans.
As someone who’s previously been one of those many uninsured (and currently know many who are in that predicament), only visiting hospital emergency rooms when in dire need of care, I definitely want to see this.
Directed by Emmy-award winning documentarian Peter Nicks, the film will make its debut in competition at the 55th annual San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs from April 19–May 3.
Watch a preview of it below: