Remote Area Medical is a documentary which focuses the universal need for efficient healthcare, but instead of taking a pointed political stance on the issue, filmmaker Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman take viewers on a personal journey of RAM’s three day clinic at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway.
Shot in April 2012, the documentary contains extensive interviews with patients of Remote Area Medical (an estimated 2000 people were treated during RAM’s pop-up stop in Tennessee). Since Bristol rests within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, many of the people reside amidst this scenic environment.
But a beautiful view and living in open country doesn’t translate into excellent medical care, as many people can’t even afford a doctor or a dental visit. In the documentary, viewers witness a man who gets his blood pressure taken in the nick of time, a woman who undergoes a much needed X-ray, and several more than thankful patients getting several of their teeth extracted (these are the doc’s hardest to watch sequences) . Even obtaining a new pair of glasses and dentures is a luxury these patients can’t afford, but thanks to RAM those needs were met.
“We want the movie to stand as a document of the time that we were there and the people that we met,” said Reichert, who previously directed the 2010 film Gerrymandering. “There’s something kind of wonderful in documentary (filmmaking). You can watch something happen and share it with people who couldn’t actually be there to see it.”
For the filmmakers, the documentary’s focus came into clearer view during the editing process.
“With most good documentary filmmaking, you have to be surprised,” said Zaman who, along with Jeff Reichert, volunteered at a Remote Area Medical clinic in 2011. “For one thing, it became more about the place itself. The beauty of the landscape – specifically growing up in Appalachia we sort of delved (into it) in a way that we didn’t expect. Also we talked about a film that was completely vérité which the final film is not. We did those interviews in the film that became the structural backbone of the (documentary).”
Remote Area Medical opens today in Los Angeles and other markets. For more info, go to its official site.
Remote Area Medical (MPAA Rating: none. Running time: 80 minutes). Los Angeles venues: Lammle’s Musical Hall 3 in Beverly HIlls and Lammle’s Town Center 5 in Encino.