Reviews



Ten Best Films Of The Year


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



2012 In Review:
10 Films Worth Going Out Of Your Way For


[The Waiting Room] introduces you to some remarkable characters and also makes some terrifying points about the use of emergency care as a substitute for — or a consequence of the lack of — proper primary care.
- Linda Holmes



Top 10 Movies For 2012


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



Patients’ Patience


In a year of exceptionally strong documentaries, The Waiting Room is one of the most urgent and effective.
- Amy Taubin



The 10 Best Documentaries of 2012


As nail-biting as any Hollywood thriller, Nicks’ riveting doc brings the viewer into the waiting room of a public hospital in Oakland CA – and shows us why our country’s health care system is very much in tatters.



Top 100 Movies of 2012


Rank as of January 2013: #4
Tomatometer: 100%


More Reviews


New Documentary Explores Challenge to Public Hospitals in Serving Uninsured
The daily life of a large, under-resourced, urban public hospital, a new documentary offers no experts and no statistics, just a rare fly-on-the-wall look inside an overwhelmed and at times overwhelming system and its impact on patients and staff.
- Jeffrey Brown, PBS News Hour


The Scramble For Care In ‘The Waiting Room’
The Waiting Room is often dryly funny; it’s very tense at times; it’s emotional, and it’s not didactic, which it easily could have been. It is frustrating, to be sure, but that’s sort of the point.
- Linda Holmes, NPR


Arts & Entertainment : Film Review
The Waiting Room doesn’t simply shed light on a broken healthcare system; like the best dramas, it humbly illuminates the human condition without narration or agenda.
- Ryan Little, Washington City Paper


Variety review of The Waiting Room
A rock-solid verite docu [that] provides ample evidence why our national health-care system needs fixing.
- Dennis Harvey, Variety


America on screen, for richer and poorer
Of all the memorable films on offer at Silverdocs, the most haunting by far is “The Waiting Room,” Peter Nicks’s engrossing cinema verite film set in the emergency room of the Highland Hospital in Oakland, California.
- Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post


SFIFF capsule: ‘The Waiting Room’
One of the best films in the festival, expertly shot by Bay Area filmmaker Peter Nicks, “The Waiting Room” is an astounding and moving look at a typical shift at Oakland’s Highland Hospital.
- G. Allen Johnson, SF Gate


Hot Docs Review
THE WAITING ROOM does two wonderful things before it’s all over. For starters, it takes a tedious situation and fills it with human emotion and real heart. That’s no small feat, since as sexy as a show like “Grey’s Anatomy” makes hospital work seem, the truth is that every part of it – especially the emergency room – is a real slog for all involved. The second, and perhaps most wonderful detail of the film, is the way it leaves the audience with a measure of hope.
- Ryan Mcneil , The Matinee


SFIFF Review: Peter Nicks’ Doc ‘The Waiting Room’
Bay Area filmmaker Peter Nicks gives you what looks like a Fred Wiseman movie, using the kind of raw material and a cinematographic precision that you would expect from a television show like “E.R.” It’s more distilled than Wiseman – shorter – but the pageantry, if you can call it that, is no less complex – hardworking employees under huge pressure who’ve seen it all, impatient sick people, an infusion of the suffering who have been laid off from their jobs, and lots of fear.
- David D’Arcy , Indiewire


Documenting the Uninsured & Publicly Insured in Oakland
“The film’s intimate perspective, that of people who have nowhere else to go, brings seemingly intractable political problem to the social level, rendering it a human problem.”
- Elien Becque, Center for Health Media and Policy at Hunter College


Examining the healthcare system through its public waiting rooms
One serious effect of the recession is many people’s inability to afford health care. And when people aren’t insured, they bring their medical problems to the only place required to take them: the public hospital emergency room.
- Holly Kernan, KALW


Oakland documentary project highlights Highland Hospital’s unheard voices
Oakland, CA filmmaker Pete Nicks always has an eye out for his next project. So when his wife, a speech pathologist, would come home at night and tell him about the people she worked with at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, he was struck by the stories of uninsured people he wasn’t hearing in the debate on health care.
- Emily Wilson, Oakland Local


True/False Day One: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Taken as a whole, The Waiting Room takes the measure of a systemic failure, where science, faith, and simple logistics – it goes into some detail about the logistics of ER triage – are all completely insufficient.
- Christianne Benedict, Indiewire


A tense look at the U.S. healthcare system through a day in an Oakland, Ca. hospital
At Highland Hospital in Oakland, Ca., some patients are usuals. Some jump around from hospital to hospital. Others are new due to recent unemployment and are there against their will. But they all want the same thing — help.
- Brooke Shunatona, Vox | The Missourian


4 Healthcare Movies the Supreme Court Needs to See
With a recent premiere at the estimable True/False Film Festival and a slot on PBS’ Independent lens, this doc about a emergency room in California is generating good word of mouth. Indiewire’s Press Play blog called the film “a portrait of the wreckage of late capitalism… Taken as a whole, The Waiting Room takes the measure of a systemic failure, where science, faith, and simple logistics–it goes into some detail about the logistics of ER triage–are all completely insufficient.”
- Anthony Kaufman , Indiewire


Movie Review – The Waiting Room
The documentary was one of the more hard hitting films of the True False Fest, since this is something that ultimately effects everyone with or without healthcare as the senate and government are currently waging a battle over our health rights. But the beauty of the film is that it lets the story of those directly effected in the healthcare world tell the story.
- Nick Guzman, Another Plot Device


The Waiting Room (Nicks, 2012)
Peter Nicks’s The Waiting Room is the sort of documentary that advocates on either side of the American health care debate could end up pointing at to bolster their ideological claims. In my mind, though, there was something genuinely humble (and hence, a little brave) about Nicks’s twenty-four hour observation of a public hospital and the people who pass through its doors in the span of twenty-four hours.
- Kenneth R. Morefield, 1 More Film Blog


Health care’s problems, and possible solutions, in two films at Full Frame
The Waiting Room is a dreary but well-done depiction of why our health care system is so expensive and still produces lousy outcomes. Directed by Peter Nicks, The Waiting Room depicts a day in the life of the emergency room at Highland Hospital, a public facility in Oakland, Calif. America’s medically uninsured consider a visit to the ER as going “to the doctor’s,” as one woman, while waiting, tells someone on the phone.
- Bob Geary, Independent Weekly (Durham, NC)


‘Waiting Room’ film looks at Oakland’s Highland ER
Nicks doesn’t concentrate on the adrenalin-fueled rush of trying to save lives. Instead, he uses Highland to focus mostly on the men, women and children who fill emergency waiting rooms each day as well as the caregivers charged with treating them and determining who gets seen when.
- Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle


Review: The Waiting Room – Hot Docs 2012
Living in Canada, it’s hard to imagine being in a position where you’d have to choose between buying groceries and paying for medicine or vital medical treatment. Unfortunately in the United States, that’s exactly the decision that many citizens struggle with each and every day.
- Kristal Cooper , Toronto Film Scene


A Day in ‘The Waiting Room’
The new documentary “The Waiting Room” takes place in and around the Emergency Room of Oakland’s Highland Hospital. Its patients are a cross-section of trauma victims and desperate families, many without insurance. We talk with the film’s director, Peter Nicks, about what he hopes people take away from this “day in the life.”
- Scott Shafer , The California Report


Health Care on Human Terms: Oakland’s Highland Hospital in The Waiting Room
Medical professionals at Oakland’s Highland Hospital emergency department see about 80,000 patients a year. The hospital also has northern Alameda County’s main trauma center, so during the year, more than 2,200 severely injured patients go there, whether they have health insurance or not.
- Emily Wilson , San Francisco Weekly