Filmmaker Peter Nicks will introduce his documentary Waiting Room on Wednesday (6 pm.) at the Sundance Cinemas Houston, as well as taking part in a Q&A following the film. Additionally Nicks will be a guest speaker on Thursday at the 2nd Annual San Jose Speakers Series.

Waiting Room gives the viewer a fly on the wall view of an emergency ward on a typical day. Nicks got access to the ER at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where his wife also works. While most documentary films require that people on screen sign releases, Nicks had to get two different releases in compliance with hospital policies. Highland would be the equivalent of what Ben Taub General Hospital is to Houston.

Waiting Room lets events unfold in a natural manner. We see the same nurse or doctor throughout giving us a sense of stability while patients come and go. WR pushes buttons, perhaps buttons that need to be pushed. Some people are angry at the system to the point of yelling at hospital employees. Others wait helplessly, without insurance and with life or death issues, as they’re shuffled from office to doctor until they can be admitted.

Despite the animosity of some of the patients the medical staff remains calm. As Nicks explains it’s their Hippocratic Oath and their training and their compassion on display. Obviously Waiting Room will be of interest to those in the health field but the events unwinding make you soon realize this is a film everyone should see and discuss.

— Michael Bergeron