Film Review: Remote Area Medical
Remote Area Medical
Directed by Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman
The titular organization at the heart of Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman’s documentary was originally created in the 1980s to provide medical services to those parts of the developing world that had none. In a bit of tragic, if predictable irony, it now does most of its work in the United States—because of the unfair, barbaric health care system of the richest country in the world.
The film follows the Remote Area Medical doctors and volunteers as they set up at a NASCAR speedway for a three-day stint in an Appalachian community in the group’s home state
Remote Area Medical is an angry, impassioned film—but its anger filters out slowly, through the accumulation of faces and stories. Countless numbers of people show up to take advantage of these free, pop-up medical clinics. They need everything from mammograms to dental care. Some haven’t seen a doctor in decades. The film offers vignettes and interviews with those waiting to be looked at, and tries to give a sense of the overwhelming demand for medical services while also trying to locate and follow the stories that emerge from these interviews. The result is a diffuse movie—one could argue that it might have had a greater impact if it had focused on one individual as they made their way through the system—but it’s also a genuinely powerful one.