The Waiting Room

(USA, 2012, 81 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Opening Night supported by Reel Causes


"If I could choose one film to play in the White House screening room this year, it would be The Waiting Room." So wrote Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post about this raw, intimate, sometimes uplifting documentary about life and death in a US public hospital.

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.

Named one of the top ten films of the year by the Tribeca Film Institute, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Waiting Room scores a perfect 100 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Peter Nicks’s magnificent documentary spends a day in the life of an over-crowded and under-resourced hospital emergency room in Oakland, Calif., where a staff of compassionate professionals provide care to a startlingly diverse population of patients. This subtle, compassionate tableau lifts the veil on a world often described in terms of squalor and despair, finding the inherent dignity and perseverance therein." Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"Documentarian Peter Nicks had extraordinary access to the people in and around the waiting room of a public hospital in Oakland. But what makes this a classic, and a work of art and not journalism, is his taste, his poetic touches and his talent for understatement." Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle