Remote Area Medical

Remote Area Medical

Directed by: Farihah Zaman & Jeff Reichert
80 minutes

New England Premiere

Even with recent advances in insurance provisions, millions of Americans—mostly in rural and poverty-stricken areas—remain uninsured and lack access to regular medical care. The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps (RAM) provides some relief for those in need by organizing pop-up clinics in high schools, fairgrounds, and sporting arenas. Each day of a clinic, volunteer medical providers see as many as 500 patients who have camped out in their cars for 12 hours or more beforehand. Originally conceived as a medical relief organization for developing nations, RAM now spends more than half its time and money on serving rural Americans.

REMOTE AREA MEDICAL focuses on a single three-day clinic held in the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. By centering on one weekend, the film affords us an insider’s perspective on the ebb and flow of the event—from the tense 3:30 a.m. ticket distribution that determines who gets seen to the routine check-ups that take dramatic turns for the worse, to the risky means to which some patients resort for pain relief. We meet a doctor who also drives an 18-wheeler, a denture maker who moonlights as a jewelry maker, and the organization’s founder, Stan Brock, who grew up in the Amazon rainforest, hundreds of miles from the nearest doctor. But it is the extraordinary stories of the patients, desperate for medical attention, that create a lasting impression about the state of modern health care in America.

—Kristina Aikens