Country: United States
Featuring: Chris Brasher, Davinder Gill, Tom Krueger, Chiara Lepora
Director: Mark N. Hopkins
Run time: 93 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
Living In Emergency really is hard to watch, at times. But that’s as it should be. This isn’t one of those informercials asking you to sponsor a child that show you kids with flies around them. This is brutal, harsh reality in some of the worst places on Earth. The Congo, Liberia, war-torn nations all over the globe. This documentary, out June 21st from First Run Features, follows four doctors who work with MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders).
We see little kids with gunshot wounds. We see their parents shot in the head. We see the doctors performing surgery with inadequate supplies, antiquated tools and very little time. The job these people do is staggering, where they are pretty much the only doctors in countries with no health care whatsoever. That means a ton of people in dire need of medical attention, and very few qualified people to provide that attention. Which means long hours, little sleep, and enormous stress.
As the documentary shows, not everyone is equipped to handle that stress. It really does break some doctors. But no matter how nuts they may seem, or how jerkish they may become, I am 100% inclined to give them a break. They are doing something incredible, something no one else does, and if it overwhelms them at least they tried.
The best thing about Living In Emergency is that it isn’t just a long commercial for Doctors Without Borders. Some of the doctors are (mildly) critical of the organization, and they do make light of other international aid outfits (like UNICEF). But then, I am once again 100% inclined to give them a break.
As the doctors say in the film, there is no way to describe their jobs and the conditions to someone who hasn’t been where they are. The smells, I guess, are the most impossible things to convey in words. But this movie seems to be the most exposure you’re going to get to their lives, without actually going there. And it’s fantastic. Heroic people doing heroic things without recognition. And without the tools of the job most doctors take for granted. It’s graphic, but a powerful and important work that should be seen.