The Waiting Room

Thematic Program DoubleTake

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

Filmmaker Q&A following screening


Peter Nicks


Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch, Peter Nicks


Lawrence Lerew


Peter Nicks

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

82 minutes