The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, 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. (Dir. by Peter Nicks, 2012, USA, 81 mins., Not Rated)
About Peter Nicks
Peter Nicks’ first feature documentary The Waiting Room, which chronicles a day-in-the-life of an Oakland, CA hospital waiting room, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim, being named by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle as the best documentary of 2012 and shortlisted for an Academy Award. The Washington Post named The Waiting Room one of the “ten best films of 2012” and the film garnered numerous accolades including the Stella Artois Truer The Fiction filmmaking grant, Gotham IFP and Independent Spirit Award nominations for best documentary and a Cinema Eye nomination for best debut feature. Prior to his recent work in film, Nicks worked in television for several years and earned an Emmy for Blame Somebody Else, which explored human trafficking during the Iraq War. Nicks is now developing the second of a trilogy of character-driven films exploring health care, crime and education in Oakland, CA. He received his B.A. in English from Howard University and his M.A. in journalism from UC Berkeley. He lives in Piedmont, CA with his wife and two children.