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Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders
     

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

Director: Mark Hopkins

Cast: Dr. Chris Brasher, Dr. Chiara Lepora, Dr. Tom Krueger

 
Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières) is a medical aid organization that since 1971 has been sending doctors and nurses all over the world, working in over 60 countries to bring badly needed treatment to people whose lives are threatened by either man-made or natural catastrophes. Working in some of the poorest and most devastated corners of the globe

Overview

Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières) is a medical aid organization that since 1971 has been sending doctors and nurses all over the world, working in over 60 countries to bring badly needed treatment to people whose lives are threatened by either man-made or natural catastrophes. Working in some of the poorest and most devastated corners of the globe, the men and women of Doctors Without Borders are willing to travel wherever they are needed, remaining nonpartisan when working in a nation at war and providing care for all who need it regardless of religious, political, or national affiliation. Filmmaker Mark Hopkins has created a powerful look at this organization and the people who make it work in the documentary Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders. While a large number of medical professionals volunteer to work with DWB, the Paris-based organization accepts only a small percentage, having learned through experience that the demands of working in the midst of war, natural disaster, or an epidemic is more than many of them are able to deal with. And while the film documents the group's many successes around the world, Hopkins and the healers he profiles are clearly aware of the high stakes they deal with, and that doing the right thing is sometimes an uphill battle with fewer rewards than one might hope. Living in Emergency was an official selection at the 2009 Miami International Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Living in Emergency is the story of four volunteer doctors working for the Doctors Without Borders program (Médecins Sans Frontières), a relief organization out of Paris, France, whose mission is to provide medical care in war-ravaged countries. This film isn't for the faint of heart, as filmmaker Mark Hopkins doesn't hold back on showing you graphic depictions of real-life medical procedures and traumas from brutal war zones. From full-on leg amputation to the unpleasantness of untreated chronic illness, these doctors face things that they would never see in the West. Hopkins follows them -- newbies and veterans alike -- in war-damaged locations like Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and shows men and women who, much like soldiers, share common triumphs, struggles, dangers, and jubilations as they check their idealism and egos at the door. The film opens with Dr. Tom Krueger, a surgeon out of Tennessee, who starts his first mission with the MSF at the Mamba Point Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, run by Dr. Chiara Lepora, an MSF veteran and women's rights activist. The hospital was created by the MSF after 15 years of war that ended in 2003, with 250,000 dead and one million displaced. Krueger believes that the severity of the injuries and illnesses of his patients could be avoided if they had a better healthcare system, but is reminded by Lepora that politics are not part of MSF's mission. Next, Hopkins takes us to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Dr. Chris Brasher returns for his ninth mission with the MSF, but finds it increasingly difficult to come back each time. He's a hardcore smoker and drinker, and has been running on empty for a long time. Still, his desire to help the people of the Congo is powerful, and upon his return he's greeted by local children, shares beers with hospital staff, and parties into the night at the local dance hall. However, for all the good the MSF has done for these countries and its people, Hopkins takes care to point out the organization's flaws and inconsistencies. Dr. Lepora travels to the nearby village of Foya, a few miles away from Monrovia, to visit Dr. Davinder Gill, a young doctor on his first mission and the only doctor that particular village has seen in 15 years. He's working in the field, in a situation with minimalist facilities and mounting frustrations. As Gill airs his grievances to Lepora -- the delay in communication, logistical problems, supply shortages, coordination problems -- you see a doctor who has reached his breaking point; as Lepora puts it, "He's gone mad." These frustrations with the organization cause many of the doctors to question whether they will come back for another mission, and when the MSF decides that conditions are stable enough to close the hospitals in Liberia and the Congo all together, all of the doctors have a hard time dealing with the reality of the situation. Living in Emergency is a powerful depiction of parts of the world that you only hear about in quick sound bites on the evening news. These doctors are working with minimal equipment and low-grade medicine, and in the end they're forced to compromise because they can't always stop the suffering. As one of the Liberians points out at Dr. Lepora's going-away party, they embraced her as their own, but never forgot that she's an expatriate and will eventually leave them; and as hard as it is for her to hear that, she understands the Liberians' frustrations because they are her own. In the end, the film depicts, with real candor, people finding the ability to live with wrong decisions and dealing with the bureaucracy of an organization that has good intentions but some very big flaws.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/21/2011
UPC:
0720229914734
Original Release:
2008
Rating:
NR
Source:
First Run Features
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:33:00
Sales rank:
66,562

Special Features

ABC new's Elizabeth Vargas moderates a town hall discussion with Sebastian Junger (author of The Perfect Storm & director of Restrepo), Sophie Delaunay (executive director of MSF-USA) and others ; Interview with director Mark Hopkins ; About doctors without borders / MSF

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Chris Brasher Participant
Chiara Lepora Participant
Tom Krueger Participant
Davinder Gill Participant

Technical Credits
Mark Hopkins Director
Erika Bertin Executive Producer
Molly Conners Executive Producer
Chris Cooper Co-producer
Chris Cooper Producer
Bruno Coulais Score Composer
Shaana Diya Executive Producer
Geralyn White Dreyfous Executive Producer
Bob Eisenhardt Editor
Naisola Grimwood Producer
Mark Jonathan Harris Executive Producer
Daniel Holton-Roth Producer
Mark Hopkins Producer
Sebastian Ischer Cinematographer,Editor
Sarah E. Johnson Executive Producer
Tracy McKnight Musical Direction/Supervision
Douglas Rossini Editor
Louis Spiegler Co-producer
Christopher Woodrow Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders
1. Opening Credits [5:14]
2. Liberia [15:29]
3. Paris [9:26]
4. Chaos [15:17]
5. Tensions [7:38]
6. Congo [14:49]
7. Unfair [9:24]
8. End Credits [11:12]

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