Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

Horror Without Frontiers

By David Luhrssen
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The grounds of the Rwandan hospital are pleasant and verdant, clean and well kept, but the memories are horrible. Canadian physician James Orbinski was in Rwanda for Doctors Without Frontiers during the genocide that swept the African nation like a deadly fever in 1994. In those terrible months the paths to the hospital ran with blood.

Triage is Patrick Reed’s documentary on Orbinski, who has also served in Somalia and Congo through times of famine, lawlessness and massacre. Orbinski has worked to counter death by indifference or political calculation on a massive scale. He has made close eye contact with evil. He doesn’t seem to have blinked. “The world is not ideal... and you have to do what‚s necessary,” he says. Out now on DVD, Triage is a quietly compelling (and disturbing) examination of a man who rejects the crackpot Utopianism of left and right. He’s not trying to conjure up a better imaginary future but respond to human needs one individual at a time.

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