The Waiting Room

Thematic DoubleTake Curated by Sadie Tillery

Peter Nicks’s rigorous vérité film spends 24 hours in an Oakland Emergency Room, his camera evenly maneuvering through the complex environment. A stoic nurse intercepts boisterous patients before they are admitted. A physician laments slow bed turnover; he can’t discharge his stabilized patient because it’s clear the man has nowhere else to go. A young couple faces expensive treatment without having insurance to cover the procedure. Methodically, Nicks’s steady lens peels back layers of frustration, imbalance, and tension; patients feel manipulated, physicians are overwhelmed, the system is exhausted. The film also records the mechanics of this ever-shifting space: admittance, beds, prescriptions, testing, discharge. Every move is pressurized by the burden of limited resources. The Waiting Room offers a portrait of contemporary health care, but the greater focus is the human beings who consistently feel its impact. This treatment is meant to be a last resort, yet for many it’s the first and only option.

Sadie Tillery, 2012 Festival


Peter Nicks


Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch, Peter Nicks


Lawrence Lerew


Peter Nicks

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

82 minutes