The documentary REMOTE AREA MEDICAL, directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, has set a Spring 2014 release date courtesy of Cinedigm. Remote Area Medical documents three days in April 2012, nearly 2000 Americans waited in the parking lot of Bristol, Tennessee’s massive NASCAR speedway to receive free medical, dental, and vision care provided by the volunteer organization Remote Area Medical, the pioneer of no-cost pop-up health care clinics.
By many estimates, more than 45 million Americans are without health insurance, which means they don’t get access to basic preventative medical care, much less coverage for catastrophic health events. Problems that should be easily rectified under regular care go untreated for years and become chronic, affecting quality of life and sometimes leading to serious illness.
Remote Area Medical follows a group of volunteer healthcare providers who organize a pop-up clinic of the same name at a NASCAR speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Over three long days in April of 2012, the dedicated staff attempts to give treatment to 2,000 folks from the surrounding communities who cannot otherwise afford it, for conditions ranging in magnitude from new dentures to diabetes and cancer. Throughout the film, it remains clear that while the Remote Area Medical team is making a big difference, many of the treatments rendered are just scratching the surface. While some folks receive life-changing new prescriptions for eyeglasses and crucial diagnoses of life-threatening illnesses, others are forced to triage the most immediately painful of their ailments and hope they can hold out until the next free clinic, or until they can scrape together some kind of coverage. However, without this effort, these working poor Americans would be left to completely slip through the cracks, helpless in the face of outrageous and ever-escalating healthcare costs.
Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman’s film forces us to confront a crisis in our own backyard, but eschews the politics of greed behind the crisis for a moving portrait of those affected. This heartfelt and carefully crafted film immerses us in this weekend-long struggle to make a difference for those who need it, and take a small step towards rectifying a tragic injustice. (J. Scott Braid) [ via Maryland Film Festival ]