News Column

Documenting care: Film highlights RAM's work in upper East Tennessee [News Sentinel]

November 21, 2013


Remote Area Medical held the screening of an award-winning documentary at the Tennessee Theatre on Thursday evening highlighting their annual work providing health care to thousands of people at Bristol Motor Speedway in upper East Tennessee.

Over a three-day period in April 2012, when the movie was filmed, RAM's volunteer staff carried out an epic health care session.

The film shows what private-sector physicians, dentists, nurses and aides can do using state-of-the-art equipment to help working- class folks with basic health needs. Forget about the billion- dollar global aid industry for 80 minutes as the film carries you inside the framework of this army of medical workers.

"The content of this documentary was filmed close to Knoxville, so the people in the film are no different than Knoxvillians," said Stan Brock, who started RAM in 1985 on a shoestring budget piloting a C-47 plane into the Amazon jungle to drop medics and supplies to help tribal people who lived too far from urban areas to take advantage of health care.

"This is a film from the volunteers' and patients' point of view. With close to 50 million Americans who are uninsured, this is a gripping movie about the needs for health care in this country."

Brock, a British expat who was a one-time "Wild Kingdom" television star in the late 1960s and early 1970s wrestling anacondas and chasing untamed eastern Africa Savannah animals, is still a brawny man at 76 and did pushups behind the Tennessee Theatre stage at the as the Knoxville Wind Symphony warmed up the crowd before he spoke before the film screening.

Film directors Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman were on hand, too, having flown in for the screening from New York and Montreal, respectively.

"We knew we wanted to film a clinic in Tennessee because we thought it was an area that is often overlooked by the main stream of this country," said Zaman, who, along with Reichert, volunteered at a RAM clinic in Pikeville, Ky., before filming the project.

Reichert said Brock initially declined their proposal to do the film. But the directors persuaded him over time.

"Our main hope is that people just get to see this film," said Reichert, adding the duo is looking to get the film ultimately distributed to a wider audience.

Ilene Power, the executive director of the film who flew in from California, said the movie is not about politics.

"The film is neither left nor right, politically," she said. "It's thrilling to see the support, awareness and pride that is exhibited by this homegrown organization here in Knoxville. Stan's a true hero and he's genuinely modest."

RAM provided care to nearly 2,000 people during the shoot.

The film has already won Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Boston International Film Festival; the NTP Human Spirit Award at the 2013 Nashville Film Festival; and has called it one of the top 25 best undistributed films of the year.

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