THE PATRON SAINTS — a documentary film
directed by Melanie Shatzky & Brian M. Cassidy
*FILMMAKER IN ATTENDANCE Q&A TO FOLLOW*
Bold and unremitting in its depiction of the elderly, The Patron Saints eschews our hyper-individualistic culture obsessed with youth. Taking a head-on approach, husband-and-wife duo Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky peer with fly-on-the-wall access into the beige, featureless corridors of a nursing home, presenting an uneasy yet impactful 'portrait of fading bodies and minds.' Forgoing conventional documentary modes for a poetic treatment of the aging, the residents here, shot over the course of five years, are captured with a disconcerting deadpan realism—candid depictions not unlike Larry Clark’s bruising sexually active teenagers in Kids (1995). Jim, the youngest resident, a paralyzed man who has been in and out of institutions his entire life, is our humble, wisecracking narrator and guide. A startling wake-up call that takes up permanent residence in the mind, The Patron Saints unearths a rare beauty in the bleakest of places. — Justin Mah
directed by Joost van der Wiel
Nico van Hasselt (90) has been active as a general practitioner in the neighborhood of ‘Buitenveldert’ in Amsterdam ever since he moved there in 1956. He is a committed doctor who truly cares for his patients and makes more then ten house calls per day. After his morning coffee the doctor sprints eagerly to his car and drives towards his first patient of the day. Since 1989 van Hasselt has been in a heated legal conflict with the medical insurance company Agis. Agis has been trying to shut him down. Insurance companies pressure the medical sector to standardize it and make it more efficient. Van Hasselt believes the criticism he receives is based solely on the fact that he does not want to abide by the regulations applied by the insurance companies. Insurance companies take away tasks, prescribe the length of a consult and dictate guidelines for treatments and medication. To van Hasselt this is a bridge to far. Medicine to him is not just a system; it’s taking care of each other. But as he gets older and the influence of the insurance companies grows larger, the question remains how long van Hasselt can continue his role as ‘shepherd’ of the community.