Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By DENNIS PERKINS
In a world where an actual presidential candidate flat-out stated that the American health care system was just fine because the poor and uninsured could just go to the emergency room, a film festival about the crisis in health care would seem to be a necessity.
“How to Survive a Plague” charts the growth of AIDS activism.
“Escape Fire” depicts efforts to reform our medical system.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Thursday to Saturday: “Pina.” Wim Wenders (“Wings of Desire,” “Buena Vista Social Club”) directs this visually stunning documentary about the legendary avant garde choreographer Pina Bausch.
THE ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIMENT
If the weather outside is frightful, click over to check out the latest Maine-made webseries (such as “The Food Coma Show” and “No Refund for Content”) on this exciting new website.
Thankfully, we here in Portland have Space Gallery, 538 Congress St. (space538.org).
Space, every Portlander's first stop when searching for alternative film fare, is hosting a trio of health care-related documentaries over the next month. Each of them examines a different aspect of the challenges Americans face when, you know, not wanting to die and stuff.
"With a glut of films coming out about health care issues at the same time, it's almost like the universe presents you with a little series," explains Space's Jon Courtney. "They're all about people figuring out a way to deal with the health care system."
Space's Health/Care Film Series consists of:
• "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" (screening at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday for $7) examines the various movements attempting to challenge the entrenched bureaucracy and quick-fix, high-cost methodology of the current system with a more holistic, preventative approach dedicated to nothing less than an American health care revolution. Followed by a discussion with Dr. Lisa M. Letourneau, executive director of Maine Quality Counts.
• "How to Survive a Plague" (screening Jan. 18 and Jan. 20) looks back at the tragically inspiring battle of AIDS activists to force the medical community to, by any means necessary, bring attention and effective treatment to patients (including themselves) at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
• "The Waiting Room" (screening Feb. 13) is the raw, award-winning riposte to the idea that a chaotic, overwhelmed ER is every uninsured American's adequate substitute for the comprehensive health care that the wealthy enjoy.
This film follows the valiant efforts of an inner-city hospital's attempts to cope with the unceasing flood of low-income patients who'd stubbornly like to live despite not having millions of dollars like certain failed political footnotes.
The series is a typically challenging, eclectic mix of films from Space, which, while not a dedicated movie theater as such, continues to be the No. 1 destination for Portland-area viewers looking for an alternative to the chain theater fare.
That's a fact that, somewhat surprisingly, Courtney views with mixed emotions.
"Steve and Judy Halpert (at the Movies at the Museum in the Portland Museum of Art) do a good job bringing interesting stuff to Portland," says Courtney, "but that's only once a week. In a town where there isn't a proper art-house theater, Space tries to fill Portland's serious art-house void."
For which we film fans are all thankful.
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.
click image to enlarge
“The Waiting Room” follows the challenges of an inner-city hospital.