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“Memorable. Haunting. Engrossing.”

– Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
  International Film Circuit presents
an Open’hood and ITVS Co-Production in association with Peer Review Films


A film by Peter Nicks

USA • 2012 • TRT: 82:20 • All digital formats

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Nominated for

Nominated for

America's controversial health care system is broken and nowhere is it more evident than in The Waiting Room.
A composite 24 hour period at Highland Hospital in Oakland, one of the nation's busiest emergency rooms, offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices and what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance.
This emergency room sees about 80,000 visits annually. Doctors and nurses juggle 236 beds, balancing limited resources in a delicate triage system to provide care to a community desperately in need. The tension between trauma and acute care builds in the waiting room at Highland Hospital, resulting in long, frustrating periods spent waiting for basic medical attention-sometimes up to 12 hours!
The Waiting Room lays bare the struggle and determination of both a community and an institution functioning with limited resources and no road map for navigating a health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. Through this story of one hospital and its multifaceted community, the film powerfully and poignantly illustrates the common vulnerability to illness that binds us together as humans.


“Brilliant.” – Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood

NYT Critics’ Pick
“Confronts you head-on.”

– Stephen Holden, New York Times

“Memorable. Haunting. Engrossing.
Should be required viewing by the Supreme Court.”

– Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“To watch THE WAITING ROOM is to wish it would never end.
This is human drama at its most intense and universal.
The rare film that can change the way you think and see the world.
THE WAITING ROOM is a series of revelations.
Some might be called political, but most are spiritual."

– Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“A- An exemplary specimen of highly effective cinema verite …
weaving expertly selected and edited stories.”

– Lisa Schwartzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“One of the most humanistic, compassionate films of the year. Simultaneously apolitical and one of the most political movies of the year. Brilliant.”
– Dan Schindel, Screen Picks

“Astounding and moving. This movie will stay with you.”
– G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

Critics' Pick
“An observational doc that manages to say a lot by saying
very little — avoiding political grandstanding and
instead coolly observing the characters.”

– New York Magazine

“A source of both inspiration and hope.
The system may be broken, but the people are not.”

– Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“Rock solid.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“Enthralling.” – Damon Smith, Filmmaker Magazine

“Engrossing.” – Kacey Dreamer, Mother Jones

“What healthcare really looks like in America.”
– Anthony Kauffman, SundanceNow.com

“Powerful. Quietly rich. A timely and compelling …
tribute to the resilience and dignity of the human spirit.

– Nathan Rabin, AV Club

“The Waiting Room is worth visiting.
Reveals how humanizing the place actually is.”

– Jonathan Kiefer, The Village Voice

“If any Silverdocs film should be required viewing at the
U.S. Supreme Court, it’s Peter Nicks’s devastating verite portrait
of the emergency room at Oakland’s Highland Hospital.
A sad, funny, tense, deeply affecting day-in-the-life of an under-resourced public hospital, the film features unforgettable characters, from a sweet-talking ER nurse to the Bay Area’s very own Dr. McDreamy.
Even more inspiring are the patients whose ailments and financial obstacles almost overpower their dignity and fortitude.”
– Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“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 people who have been laid off from their jobs, and lots of fear. This is documentary as distilled observation. It’s also as strong an argument for universal health care as I’ve seen in years.”
– David D’Arcy Indiewire/ThompsonOnHollywood


Official Selection
True/False Film Festival

Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award
Full Frame Film Festival
Audience Award for Best Documentary
Golden Gate Award-Best Documentary

San Francisco Int’l Film Festival
Official Selection
Hot Docs Film Festival
Special Jury Mention
Silver Docs

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