Running at just 82 minutes in length, the hospital documentary, “Code Black” is already getting the attention it deserves. Unlike other documentaries, “Code Black” is at times interesting, sobering and frustrating, but never is it dull. During the film festival circuit, the movie has received numerous awards including Best Documentary Feature (Los Angeles Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival), the Audience Award (Aspen FilmFest) and the People’s Choice Award (Starz Denver Film Festival).
Physician-turned filmmaker, Ryan McGarry escorts viewers through Los Angeles County Hospital, home of America’s busiest Emergency Department. The “stars” of the movie are fellow residents who thrive at their jobs but are also frustrated by the limitations of it. The bulk of their training has come from working in the “C-Booth,” a trauma bay and “birthplace” of Emergency Medicine in general. Each of them takes a turn in front of the camera to describe details of their job and their life in general. One has lost a father to Alzheimer’s; another personally had stage 4 cancer, but was cued. Some of the footage shows the doctors in action. They are students in their fourth year ready to embark into medicine full time.
Most hospitals operate on a color-code system where different colors represent the business and stress level of that day. Code Black refers to the highest level of stress.
McGarry and his friends acknowledge their lack of understanding all of the issues and red tape that surrounds today’s healthcare system, but that doesn’t stop them from coming up with new and unique ways to come up with better systems and processes to speed up waiting time for patients. They each long for a time when people can focus on the importance of healing people, not focusing on the money it takes to do it.
For a first-time director, McGarry does a fantastic job of showing us what it is that we want to see and implores the audience to not see healthcare through political eyes. He expects them to help find creative solutions to today’s healthcare crisis. The film ends on a positive note as well.