Joshua Reviews Jeff Reichert And Farihah Zaman’s Remote Area Medical [PIFF 2014 Review]


There are currently no hotter button issue in this country than that of health care. Say what you will about President Barack Obama’s attempt at getting this nation closer and closer to universal health care for any and all citizens, there are thousands if not millions of people across this nation that don’t have access to care or can’t afford premiums from companies that seemingly go up with every passing moment. However, there are some groups that decide to cut through the corruption, the greed and the judgement, all with the hopes of bringing some much needed care to the me , women and children who truly need and, as any human does, deserve it.

One of these groups is the basis of a new, beautifully composed documentary that takes it’s title from their name, Remote Area Medical. RAM is a group out of Tennessee that is a non-profit supplier of health, dental and eye care, as well as veterinary services, to those people living in the more remote parts of these United States. Founded by former Wild Kingdom assistant Stan Brock, the group initially started with a focus on third world countries, but has since turned its eyes inward, focusing on rural areas where incomes are low and health care is in much needed, but often too expensive, demand. Giving over $30 million in free healthcare to areas around the world, the group is one of the most important and truly important non-profit organizations here in the states, and their exploits are well documented here in this new documentary.

Aesthetically, the film is entrancing. Looking into the faces of these citizens who have either not been able to afford care or just not had it available to them, without any political bent or sociological judgement, the film’s greatest attribute is it’s ability to paint this as a human tale instead of a political one. Beautifully intimate and in many ways unflinching, the camera seems to love each and every character it comes across, and allows there stories to be told as purely as possible. Never editorializing instead simply just letting the people and their situation speak for themselves, the films quiet and fly on the wall style pays dividends here, steeping the viewer in the world lived in by these men and women, ranging from people in need of glasses, to those who need dental work. These men and women are flesh and blood, with their plight given a breathless amount of love, humor and care.

However, viewers will have more than enough to chew on thematically if they so choose. Some of these men and women are relatively blind to what they need in health care, but the majority if then simply can’t afford monstrously large premiums from companies uninterested in giving care to those with lower income levels. This isn’t a political belief or an opinion, instead it’s posited here as scientific fact, with these stories as it’s proof. Now, while the inception of the group and its own history is a problematic blank spot here, particularly given the title the film takes, the film decides to shine its light outward, away from the group itself, painting a more humanistic picture than one that is truly interested in documenting the group, and not the group’s life changing work. A breathtaking, moving and human documentary about a group of men and women giving care to those who deeply need it, this is an unforgettable documentary that needs to be seen. A human tale with a message for those interested in digging deeper, this is an absolute must see.

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.