‘Code Black’ Could Change The National Health Care Debate (REVIEW)

on Wednesday, Jun. 19th

Last night I saw a documentary that might just define a generation. Code Black, which had its world premier at the Los Angeles Film Festival last night is the kind of film that could only be made in this day and age, and is so incredibly needed.

The film is the work of Ryan McGarry, a fourth year resident at Los Angeles County Hospital's emergency room unit. How a working ER doctor manages to make a feature film documentary in his spare time is beyond me. That the film is so gripping is beyond comprehension.

McGarry starts the film in the Old Country Hospital's C-Booth, a 20 x 25 ft. patch of territory that according to the film has seen more deaths–and more saved lives–than any other square footage in the United States. 

From there the director masterfully takes the audience into both the history of the speciality and begins to weave a socially consciousness narrative that hints at a generational frustration with the never-ending health care debate in the United States.

For the nattering heads on cable TV overcrowded hospitals and Obamacare are talking points. For the ER doctors, whose blue collar work ethic is worn as a badge of pride, it is a soul crushing reality. Code Black is the term given to the state of waiting room gridlock that leaves patients waiting, sometimes for 18 hours at a stretch.

The film has been given an unprecedented fourth screening at the LA Film Fest, in part because of the local impact. The political consequences of this film could reach far beyond the borders of LA county if word spreads.

What McGarry manages to do in this film is more than just document a moment in time. He asks a fundamental question about what kind of society the United States wants to be, and then holds the camera close to those who stand to suffer the most if the status quo is maintained.

Code Black screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival:

Friday, June 21 at 7:10pm, Saturday, June 22 at 4:50pm and Saturday, June 22 at 8:30pm.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)


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