The Waiting Room tours America and returns to Columbia

Posted November 30, 2012

The Waiting Room was one of the most talked about films at T/F 2012, and in the months since the Fest the conversation has spread throughout the country. Following a successful run in the Bay Area and at NYC’s IFC Center, The Waiting Room has moved on to D.C., Sacramento and Boston with more cities soon to follow. And the film will be returning to Columbia for two nights only on December 12th and 13th at Ragtag Cinema.

The Waiting Room is and ought to be an important part of the ongoing discussion about health care reform in America. The film observes a single day in the overcrowded emergency room of Highland Hospital of Oakland, where desperate uninsured patients wait for countless hours in hopes of seeing a doctor. A welcome reprieve from the pontificating of experts and politicos, The Waiting Room offers no solutions. But, as Stephen Holden of the New York Times notes “by removing any editorial screen, it confronts you head-on with human suffering that a more humane and equitable system might help alleviate”. In the words of Rick Ayers of The Huffington Post, it is “a punch to the gut, an unblinking gaze at the real lives of people cast off and left out of the medical system in the U.S.” The film also carefully tracks the Herculean labors of the Highland Hospital staff, who act with patience, humor and courage in the face of unending frustration. The final result is, as Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle observes, “human drama at its most intense and universal”.

Director Peter Nicks spoke with The PBS Newshour about the stories that inspired him to make the film, and Highland as an institution torn between providing emergency and primary care. The segment also includes clips from the film.

Nicks also sat down with SundanceNOW in our 2012 filmmaker lounge. He explained some of the challenges of an on the fly style of documentary filmmaking, and his film’s affinity with another T/F hit, Last Train Home (T/F 2010).

The Waiting Room was created alongside The Storytelling Project, an interactive social media platform which allows patients to share their hopes and fears during those long wasted hours in the waiting room. In this sample a father explains the ordeal involved in obtaining life saving insulin for his wife.

The Waiting Room is above all else a powerful immersive experience. We recommend that you do not pass on the opportunity to see it projected on a big screen. There are only two chances in Columbia on December 12 and 13 at Ragtag Cinema. Elsewhere you catch the film at:

Landmark Kendall Square Cambridge MA 11/30+
Landmark E Street Cinema Washington DC 11/30+
The Crest Sacramento CA 11/30+
Movies at the Museum Portland ME 11/30-12/2
Carolina Theater Durham NC 12/3-12/5
Bear’s Tooth Theater Anchorage AK 12/10
Real Artways Hartford CT 12/14+
Mary Riepma Ross Film Center Lincoln NE 12/14-12/20
Denver Film Center Denver CO 1/17-1/20
Gene Siskel Film Theater Chicago IL 1/26 & 1/28
Utah Film Center Salt Lake City UT 2/26
Cleveland Museum of Art Cleveland OH 3/13
Wexner Center Columbus OH 3/21
-Dan Steffen