Hot Docs Review: The Waiting Room [Pete Nicks, 2012, 81 min]

Waiting Room is an exhilarating look into what goes on during a typical day in a public hospital in the United States. For the purposes of this documentary, the film takes place at the Highland Hospital in East Oakland, California but the faceless facade of the hospital and the anonymous nature of the people that work there do well to indicate this could be anywhere, USA.

The cameras are everywhere and as viewers, we get put right into the thick of things. We’ll see what the patients, administrators, nurses and doctors all see over the course of the day. The patients are poor, sick and desperate. Almost every patient in this film is skirting the poverty line and as such can only afford the most basic of healthcare. The administrative team are overwhelmed and stressed out, having to manage an increasingly large list of patients while dealing with increasingly agitated people in the waiting room. Equally frustrated are the doctors who not only have to deal with a large and volatile group of people but also the helplessness that arrives from repeat drug addled offenders who take up valuable space inside the hospital. Simply put, the staff is undermanned. The system does not work.

The film moves along at a rapid pace and does a good job jumping between the characters we will meet. You’ll want to get more background on some of the main characters, but there’s no time for that in this documentary. With this 81 minute documentary, director Pete Nicks easily demonstrates some of the major problems that exist within the US healthcare system as it exists today.

The Waiting Room is a great example of a documentary that takes a snapshot of the moment. It doesn’t spell out any solutions to the problems you see – rather, it opts to just lay it all out on the table for you look at, think about and discuss among your fellow film goers and friends. It’s a film about people, and ultimately, for the United States to be willing to reform it’s ways, it’ll be the people who’ll have to rise up and make some noise. Having discussions is a good starting point.

A very good documentary. Highly recommended.

Fri, May 4 7:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sat, May 5 6:30 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, May 6 9:15 PM, The Royal Cinema

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

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