Geoff Burton’s graceful documentary examines the treatment of a student’s life-threatening brain disease shortly upon arriving in Australia, and the quiet stoicism of his wife, a devout young Bangladeshi woman.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Geoff Burton’s graceful, tender documentary provides a striking contrast to the fictional The Death of Mr Lazarescu in its account of a marginalised citizen treated with the utmost care and respect in a sophisticated hospital system. Yet the way life and death are counterpoised in the two films feels remarkably similar, testifying, perhaps, to the uncanny veracity of both. Three months after arriving in Australia from Bangladesh on a student visa with his new wife, Nahida, 25-year-old Mohammad Hossain took ill and was admitted to Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital. He was diagnosed with tuberculous meningitis. The film tracks the daily struggle of ICU director Gillian Bishop and her staff to understand Hossain’s illness and to interpret events to the bewildered Nahida, who is pregnant and speaks imperfect English. The filmmaker’s empathy with Nahida, bearing witness to her daily trek by train to keep her bedside vigil, is intense and heartening to behold. — BG
“This is humanistic, observational doco-making at its absolute best." — Lynden Barber, Sydney Film Festival