This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Chris Ruge is one of three health-care workers trying to make a difference in northern New Mexico in The Providers

Chris Ruge is one of three health-care workers profiled in The Providers trying to make a difference in northern New Mexico

THE PROVIDERS (Anna Moot-Levin & Laura Green, 2018)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Monday, November 12, 12:45
Festival runs November 8-15

Most recent polls show that health care is the number one concern of most Americans, ahead of the economy, immigration, the environment, gun violence, and other issues. Filmmakers Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green travel to northern New Mexico to explore a critical aspect of the health-care crisis in the moving, almost elegiac The Providers, which is making its New York City premiere at the DOC NYC festival. Moot-Levin and Green, both the children of doctors, directed, produced, photographed, recorded the sound, and edited (with Chris Brown) the film, which follows three health-care workers as they deal with poor, underserved patients with empathy, compassion, and understanding in small rural towns. “My job is to try to keep you alive,” nurse practitioner Chris Ruge tells one patient. “Health care is a relationship,” explains physician assistant Matt Probst. And family physician Leslie Hayes points out that once she retires, there is no one to take over for her. Moot-Levin and Green spent one hundred days over three years in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Española in New Mexico, going behind the scenes as Ruge, Probst, and Hayes treat men, women, and children, including many adults suffering from alcoholism, opioid abuse, and other addictions. The three providers are part of the ECHO Care program at El Centro clinics, which allows them to see patients who have little or no money; they visit them in the hospital and make house calls, often stopping by just to check on how things are going. “There is so much beauty here. And there is so much pain,” Probst says.

Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green on the set of The Providers

Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green on the set of The Providers, their first film

The film also reveals how their dedication to their jobs impact their private lives; Ruge’s wife, nurse midwife Ann Ruge, complains that her husband cares more about his patients than about her, while Probst has to deal with an addicted father and troubled sister. When future funding for ECHO Care is in jeopardy, Chris Ruge notes, “If it ended, it would likely lead to the early death of a lot of our patients.” Another problem is where the next generation of health-care workers will come from to serve these indigent communities; Probst teaches physician assistant students at the University of New Mexico, where he hopes to find young men and women willing to stay local. “I want to go into the medical profession because this community is so far from medical help,” one student, Tiffany, says. The Providers is screening November 12 at IFC in the American Perspectives section of DOC NYC, with Moot-Levin participating in a Q&A after the film.


Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad fights for the future of the Yazidis while facing intense pressure in On Her Shoulders

ON HER SHOULDERS (Alexandria Bombach, 2018)
Cinepolis Chelsea
260 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Saturday, November 10, 10:00 am
Sunday, November 11, 9:55 pm
Festival runs November 8-15

See. This. Documentary. Now! Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders is an extraordinary film about an extraordinary human being. In August 2014, the Yazidis of Northern Iraq were attacked by ISIS, who raped and killed thousands of Yazidis in what amounted to a genocide, turning countless women into sex slaves. Twenty-one-year-old Nadia Murad survived and later escaped the horror and has been on a mission ever since, traveling around the world to share her story in order to save and protect this ethno-religious minority, who have been scattered throughout refugee camps. “What must be done so a woman will not be a victim of war?” she demands. For a year, Bombach followed Nadia and Murad Ismael, executive director of Yazda, a global organization dedicated to supporting the Yazidis and other vulnerable groups, as Nadia met with media and politicians while hoping to be able to address the UN General Assembly. They go to Canada, Germany, Greece, and America, occasionally joined by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, Yazda deputy executive director Ahmed Khudida Burjus, and former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, as she makes her case to anyone who will listen.

Nadia is not a born activist; she has taken up the cause because she can’t see any other option. In the process, however, she has become a remarkable speaker and a reluctant hero to her people, but it takes a toll on her. As she tells her story, she must relive over and over again the atrocities she personally experienced and meet with men, women, and children who are suffering terribly and often break down into tears upon just being in her presence. “As a girl, I wish I didn’t have to tell the people this happened to me. I mean, I wish it hadn’t happened to me so I wouldn’t have to talk about it,” she explains. “I wish people knew me as an excellent seamstress, as an excellent athlete, as an excellent makeup artist, as an excellent farmer. I didn’t want people to know me as a victim of ISIS terrorism.”

On Her Shoulders

Nadia Murad and Murad Ismael stand tall in Alexandria Bombach’s extraordinary On Her Shoulders

Bombach, who directed, edited, and photographed the film — using a small, handheld Canon EOS 5D Mark III to be as unobtrusive as possible — treats Nadia with a deep respect and sensitivity, being very careful not to exploit her even further, nor does she put her on a pedestal. She focuses her camera on Nadia’s striking face and her expressive eyes, which are filled with a mix of horror and hope, tired beyond their years. Throughout the film, Bombach (Frame by Frame, Common Ground) includes clips of an interview she conducted with Nadia near the end of their time together. Nadia’s long black hair and black top nearly fade into the black background, her face and neckline prominent as she speaks openly and honestly about her mission. Nadia barely ever allows herself to smile, refusing to feel joy when there is still so much work to be done; she will not stop until there is justice and accountability for what is happening to the Yazidis. It’s heartbreaking when she says, “I can’t bear to live this kind of life.” In a rare moment out of the public spotlight, she is in a kitchen cooking, and it is absolutely delightful, a much-needed break from the intense pressure that hovers over her. On Her Shoulders is a deeply affecting, heart-wrenching film that will leave you emotionally exhausted but also energized to take action. “I want women and girls to see themselves as something special,” Nadia — who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize — says, refusing to acknowledge that she herself is special indeed. Winner of numerous festival awards, On Her Shoulders, which recently completed a theatrical run at Village East, is screening November 10 and 11 at DOC NYC, with Bombach participating in Q&As after the shows.


Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers tells the amazing story of adopted triplets who find one another only to learn horrible details of their separation

Cinepolis Chelsea
260 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Thursday, November 8, 6:15
Friday, November 9, 10:15 am
Festival runs November 8-15

At the beginning of Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers, screening November 8 and 9 at the ninth annual DOC NYC festival, Bobby Shafran says, “When I tell people my story, they don’t believe it. I guess I wouldn’t believe the story if someone else were telling it, but I’m telling it. And it’s true, every word of it.” He then discusses how, in 1980, through a series of coincidences, he discovered that he was an adopted triplet, and the three brothers, born on July 12, 1961, became the best of friends, going on a media blitz and taking New York City by storm. That in itself is a great story, but that’s only the first part of this gripping movie; what follows is a thriller-like investigation into the lives of Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran involving why they were separated at birth by the Louise Wise Services adoption agency. It’s an utterly captivating film, as every time you think the story can’t get more bizarre, it does. Wardle speaks with many members of the three boys’ adopted families, journalists, and several people who were involved in the nature/nurture experiment that separated them; it’s absolutely heart-wrenching watching them learn what happened to them back in 1961 that changed their lives forever and ultimately resulted in tragedy — and the full truth is still not known. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at Sundance among awards at many other festivals, Three Identical Strangers is screening in the Short List section of DOC NYC, with Wardle present at both shows.


Beyond the Bolex

Alyssa Bolsey’s Beyond the Bolex explores a family legacy and the history of early film

BEYOND THE BOLEX (Alyssa Bolsey, 2018)
Cinepolis Chelsea
260 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Thursday, November 8, 9:15
Festival runs November 8-15

The ninth annual DOC NYC festival, a celebration of nonfiction film, is bigger than ever, this year consisting of more than three hundred shorts and features and with an all-star collection of celebrity-driven works from November 8 to 15. But often it’s the small documentaries that offer the most surprises. One such film, screening at Cinepolis Chelsea on opening night, is Alyssa Bolsey’s Beyond the Bolex. Bolsey made her first movie when she was twelve, but following the death of her paternal grandfather, she found out that filmmaking was truly in her blood: Her great-grandfather was Jacques Bolsey, the inventor of the Bolex and an influential experimental filmmaker. “I had no idea that there was a long-lost family legacy waiting to be uncovered, a treasure trove going all the way back to the early days of film,” she says. But while speaking with such directors and cinematographers as Wim Wenders, Bruce Brown, Dave Alex Riddett, Jonas Mekas, and Barbara Hammer, she also discovers details about her family history she never knew during a twelve-year investigation into Jacques’s life and career. The world premiere screening will be followed by a Q&A with Alyssa Bolsey and producer Camilo Lara Jr.