Dr. James Orbinski ponders humanity at Rwanda’s Murambi Genocide Memorial.
TRIAGE: DR. JAMES ORBINSKI'S HUMANITARIAN DILEMMA (Patrick Reed). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (November 7). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
There's a certain kind of absence that creeps into the gaze of people who've seen too much.
You'll see it, and quite a lot of it, behind the eyes of James Orbinski, Nobel honouree and former president of Doctors Without Borders, in Patrick Reed's powerful documentary Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma.
Reed's cameras follow Orbinski as he returns to Africa on a kind of pilgrimage. Reliving the famine in Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda, he confronts the unspeakable things he witnessed there years earlier as a humanitarian aid worker.
It's a harrowing experience for those of us on the other side of the screen, as well. We're led, once again, to understand the true scope of the horrors of Africa, and then to marvel at Orbinski's reflexive decency - at his unquestioning impulse to do good in the face of inconceivable brutality and misery. And no good deed goes unpunished: the doctor is still clearly suffering the post-traumatic impact of his experience.
Eschewing stylistic tricks for a straightforward recording of the trip, Reed crafts an efficient, effective portrait of a man whose simple insistence to act and help rather than retreat to safety defines him as nothing less than a hero. They should be showing this in schools.