Xavierpop does #HotDocs12 – @HotDocs Reviews – Part IV (by @moviejay)
We hope you are enjoying them as much as we have been bringing them to you.
The Waiting Room
Director Peter Nicks is yet another filmmaker being featured at Hot Docs whose previous credits include TV work exclusively, but who makes a big splash with his first feature doc detailing 24 hours in the life of an overflowing waiting room at a public hospital in Oakland’s Alameda County.
There are no title cards informing us of these people’s names, and that doesn’t matter because we know people just like this. There is no message and no big political points it wants to score. What it is however, is one of the most absorbing pure documents of how public hospital life is like in a major urban center. It is a human drama where Nicks’ camera does an amazing job through his cinema verite style to give us a generous, lived-in feeling of the lives of the patients as well as the caretakers we meet.
“The Waiting Room” provides amazing inside access to emergency rooms and nurse stations beyond the waiting room where we see teams of doctors trying to save gunshot wound victims, where care is given to a homeless man who simply can’t be released back out into the cold and an in another unfolding human drama, we meet a concerned father and his daughter who has a tonsil infection. The man has been out of work for about a year and while his daughter is simply trying to deal with a high fever and a really sore throat, we feel the hopelessness in the father’s face while getting a nifty glimpse inside a poll that says that American women are most concerned about health-care. When mom enters the picture , she is immediately able to answer all of the questions the nurse needs that the father simply wasn’t aware of.
In a country where its health insurance lobby has just finished recording their best decade profit-wise in American history, “The Waiting Room” does not force any big questions on us and gives no easy answers, but it does force us to see how the system is working on the front lines, and in there the questions are profound.
Sun, Apr 29 6:00 PM
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Mon, Apr 30 2:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sat, May 5 9:00 PM
The ROM Theatre
This is no ordinary classroom drama. It follows a crash course in civics for Israeli soldiers in order for them to achieve their high school equivalencies. It is a 3-week course that examines the notions of freedom, liberty, pluralism, discrimination and whether trading liberty for security can really get the job done in the long run for the Israeli people.
The questions it poses for the audience are profound one. Early on the class learns about how up until 1966, Arab Israelis needed special permission to move around Israel and to own businesses or homes. Never mind that they were promised equality under the constitution, one student/soldier quips. If he wants to rent an apartment he owns to a fellow Jew, he doesn’t see that kind of discrimination as a negative thing. It’s simply his prerogative to rent it to who he likes and feels comfortable with.
The moderate tone of the teachers is viewed as bleeding heart liberalism to the young soldiers, who have been brought up to be suspicious of Arabs. The prejudice is thick among these students, and we eventually get the sense that they’re being run through this mill as a means of giving them an easy credit. Their minds have already been cemented with fear, prejudice and hate, and although we find ourselves captivated by the questions and the discussion that makes up the entire experience of this film, we fear that it comes too late in the process. Where was the education about tolerance and cultural understanding before the state decided to make everyone a warrior against outsiders?
Silvina Landesman, the director, does a great job of turning the camera on and simply listening to class discussion in a movie that should be required viewing for anyone interested in the Middle East peace process focusing on the aspect of the education of young people and how that meets up with familial and cultural prejudices.
The Great Liberty
Sat, Apr 28 6:30 PM
The ROM Theatre
Mon, Apr 30 4:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sun, May 6 9:15 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
“The Great Liberty” finds a son piecing together who is father is after he has been found murdered in his home in Germany. His old man was born in Sweden, split from his wife and son when he was younger, but corresponded with him with journals of his travels and his quest for personal and sexual freedom.
The movie is like a puzzle, as the grown son sifts through a glorious amount of archival footage collected by his old man through a life that is well-documented in journals and audio recordings, and serves as a reminder of the times we live in that it is more possible now to put a real picture together of a person beyond only still photos or letters.
The old man was murdered by his young male lover and possible that guy’s mother, too. The investigating team scoured the house and they along with the media helped to paint a picture of what they saw to be a loner who was perhaps mixed up in drug abuse and sadist activities.
“The Great Liberty” is not only riveting for the straightforward job of the estranged son trying to come to a deeper understanding of his father, but it’s an equally evocative study in how he must do so confronted within a framework where his father has been judged unfairly by both the authorities and the media for the provocative details of his personal life and their discomfort with those things. What we’re left with is the searching for greater truths not only within the spirit of the dead father, but within the living son, in this absorbing character study that fascinates us with all of its old footage while it also allows us time for contemplation throughout as well.