NYC’s Cinema Village (August 2016)
Pan African Film Festival
A consideration of the history of and challenges facing African-American women in the medical profession.
A response to the slow progress made in diversifying the United States’ base of physicians, with less than 5% African American representation – and, further, only 2% African American women doctors nationwide – Emery’s project is an earnest attempt to provide positive images and push back against stereotypes. Its natural venue is educational settings, where the stories of its subjects – both older pioneers and recent medical school graduates – can serve as inspiration for young African American women otherwise lacking in role models in medicine – in the words of one of the trailblazers here, former Surgeon General Dr Jocelyn Elders, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Beyond this worthwhile function, however, the doc is otherwise clunky and non-cinematic, abandoning more focused profiles of a small handful of promising subjects to instead stage dry, somewhat repetitive group panel discussions that unfortunately feel more like outtakes from a public access television program.