Jan. 8th, 2008 12:53 pm
waywardcats: (Camus)
[personal profile] waywardcats
Has anyone seen this film called Rolling which is essentially an ethnography of life in a wheelchair with emphasis on dealing with the US Healthcare system? John Hawks blogged about a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine about it and that was the first I had heard of it. Now I am very curious, and wondering if emailing the filmmaker is the only way I can obtain a copy.

From the New England Journal of Medicine article:
Moments of extraordinary frustration were also recorded, a scene captured by Elman being a striking example. After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis, Elman required a power wheelchair. One afternoon, her regular public-transportation service picked her up from an event, and during the ride home, her wheelchair stalled inside the van. Although it's officially against the rules, most riders say that a driver will sometimes bring them into their homes. That day, however, Elman wasn't so lucky. The driver parked her 10 ft from her front door, where she stayed and waited. But she had brought the video camera.

The first time I screened this tape, I was horrified. I watched Elman try to call for help on a cell phone that had no signal. I watched her wait for a car to drive by, hoping that someone would stop and help. I watched as the afternoon light faded in the background.

I wish the indignity Elman suffered that day was an isolated event, owing to one overworked bus driver. Yet the material she and Buckwalter recorded suggests otherwise. Their filmed interactions with the health care system, including telephone calls with insurance companies, visits with physicians, and exchanges with nursing aides, reveal a culture that can be both naively ignorant and, sometimes, dangerously neglectful.

And reactions to the film, also quoted by Hawks:

At a meeting of a state medical society, a physician asked whether the participants were taking antidepressants: it might make things feel less difficult, he advised. At one screening, a medical student even inquired whether the participants had considered having their legs amputated, in order to make transfers from their wheelchairs easier.

And from the Yale site about the film and the filmmaker:

Rolling was one of 14 new American films chosen by the Independent Film Project for screening at the European Film Market, which was held in conjunction with the Berlin Film Festival in February. A week later, at the invitation of the New York Film Society, Berland and Majoros showed and discussed the film at Lincoln Center in New York. Executives from Sony Pictures Classics have asked Berland for a copy to review, and she hopes that the film will be broadcast on television. (When a major commercial network discussed the possibility of airing the show if she would make the three subjects’ lives appear less arduous, however, she declined.)

“Broadcast, for me, is just the first way to get the film out,” says Berland. She also wants the film seen by legislators, medical students, practicing physicians and people who make health care policy, so they can visualize the lives of the 1.6 million Americans who use wheelchairs. “I think that disability rights is where civil rights was 40 years ago,” she says.

It seems to me that it would be a valuable film for everyone to see, especially those in the the medical profession.
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