Lately I've been focusing on a double feature-based format with this column, but this week I'm concentrating solely on Mark Hopkins' Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders. Two reasons for this: one, I'm unaware of another documentary quite like it; and two, it's such a great film that it deserves its own spotlight. I'm also breaking up the structure of Doc Talk a bit in order to engage readers a little more. Because the main reason this column exists is to get people more interested in documentary in general and to recommend films I believe Cinematical readers will appreciate and possibly even enjoy. And, of course, maybe you'll want to talk about the docs, with me and with other readers, after trying them out.
About the Film
Living in Emergency is, as I mentioned above, like nothing I've seen before. Hopkins, a former assistant to producer Scott Rudin (Bringing Out the Dead) who later got his doc feet wet working with George Butler (Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry), bravely decided to make his feature directorial debut with a film that took him to war-damaged locations like Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In these places he had unprecedented access to the work of Doctors Without Borders, aka MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), through which he follows a small number of volunteer MDs in both countries as they treat gunshot wounds to the head, among other more natural ailments (warning: the film doesn't hold back on showing you the gore and the gross disease symptoms). Some of these doctors are on their first mission; some are veterans with the MSF. All of them will probably make you feel like your own work is meaningless.