What to watch: 5 Sundance movies to watch during National Nurses Week

(Above: Escape Fire: the fight to save American Healthcare)

By Stephanie Ornelas

Cinema plays an important role in our lives when it comes to shining a light on essential people, and there is no doubt that nurses are essential. They are the heart and soul of the healthcare industry.

May 6 was the first day of National Nurses Week, leading up to International Nurses Day on May 12. And while most of us are familiar with the Honors Week, few may know that the international holiday – observed around the world – is also the birthday of Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale rose to prominence managing and training nurses during the Crimean War, laying the foundations of professional nursing with her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Sometimes we can lose sight of how much nurses put into their day-to-day work. But cinema can help. Here are five movies that have premiered at previous Sundance Film Festivals that prove it takes courage to be a nurse:

In the same breath

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that not all heroes wear capes. If they did, every frontline nurse on a COVID-19 ward would have one. In this documentary, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, the origin and spread of the new coronavirus – from the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, to its rampage across the United States – are told. With moving stories and startling imagery, the film maps cover-ups and misinformation while highlighting the strength and resilience of those who have tried to communicate the truth. (Available to stream on HBO Max)

We were here

The award-winning 2011 Sundance Film Festival documentary centers on five people who have lived through the AIDS epidemic, including Eileen Glitzer, a nurse who has worked in the AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital from the start. of the epidemic. We were here illuminates the profound personal and community questions raised by the AIDS epidemic, as well as the vast political and social upheavals it has unleashed. Documenting what was ruthlessly called the “gay plague” in the early 1980s, the film provides insight into what society could and should offer its citizens in terms of medical care, social services and community support. (Available to rent on AppleTV and Amazon)

A black and white photo of a man wearing a headband and a white t-shirt that says: "AIDS poster boy"


In the film, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Claireece “Precious” Jones lives in the toughest of situations as she endures constant abuse from her own parents. But the 16-year-old leans on the likes of nurse John (Lenny Kravitz), the hospital’s charming rock star, and her wise and patient new teacher, Mrs. Rain (Paula Patton). When Precious is offered the opportunity to transfer to an alternative school, she instinctively sees a chance to turn her life around. (Available to stream on Peacock)

A young black girl with short bangs wearing a baby blue sweater and black coat walks with her hands in her pockets as two passers-by look on.

Knock down the house

A registered nurse in Missouri, a young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, and a grieving mother in Nevada create a movement of insurgent candidates to challenge powerful congressional incumbents. In the 2018 cycle, RN Cori Bush ran with more than 50 candidates from across the country on the Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats lists. Her 2018 campaign was featured in the documentary, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and won the audience-selected Festival Favorite Award. “As a single parent, registered nurse, ordained pastor, activist and community organizer, not a day goes by that I don’t feel the impact of a government that doesn’t work for us,” Bush wrote in 2019. . (Available to stream on Netflix)

A dark-haired woman looks at a pin she is wearing that reads: "I voted"

Escape Fire: the fight to save American Healthcare

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival documentary sheds light on struggling healthcare facilities, what busy doctors and nurses do every day to provide care for their patients, and what can happen when they don’t get the support and the appropriate tools to manage their workload. Award-winning filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke follow dramatic human stories, as well as leaders who fight to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government and even the US military. (Available on the Roku Channel.)

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