William Ryan Fritch – The Waiting Room
For five months, director Peter Nicks embedded himself and his crew in the emergency room of Highland Hospital, a large public hospital located in Oakland, Calif., and filmed the hundreds of patients who entered the facility every day in need of care, as well as the overburdened staff of nurses and doctors attempting to deliver quality treatment in difficult conditions. The Waiting Room turns Highland’s ER into its own self-contained universe and keeps its focus entirely on the men and women who populate it. It’s a small-scale story that — captured through Nick’s intimate and transparent lens — speaks volumes about the larger problems facing American healthcare. The emergency room is understaffed and underfunded but the film is remarkably policy-free. There are no title cards or celebrity voice overs, no calls for action, no heavy-handed visual or musical cues suggesting the audience laugh or cry. The footage alone is enough.