Lives hang in the balance in Lenox Hill, a nine-part Netflix documentary series that offers a rare and gripping look inside a big-city hospital.
Neurosurgeons David Langer and John Boockvar, ER doc Mirtha Macri and OB-GYN chief resident Amanda Little-Richardson devote themselves to patient care and also try to maintain a semblance of a personal life in the series executive produced and directed by filmmaking couple Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz.
“They have a very meticulous job that is strenuous and very hard and they are behind those curtains and nobody really sees the heroic [work] and the sacrifice that they are making,” Shatz explained during Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary +Unscripted awards-season event. “We just realized that there is a whole world that is not being shown.”
HIPAA laws make it very difficult to film in a medical setting, but Barash and Shatz obtained consent from numerous patients.
“I think people want to be seen…They want to be taken care of not only by the doctors but [for] other people to see their pain,” Shatz said. “When people saw our approach and the minimal crew that we were, they really wanted to open up.”
Barash shot the film, which found him balancing the technical demands of the job with feelings stirred up by what he witnessed on camera.
“You’re in a very, very special moment, very intimate moment between family members and you project that this could go down a path that will have grave consequences for the people that you have been following and filming and for the doctors themselves,” he said. “I’m also absorbing these emotions almost as a viewer, for the first time. On the rational side I’m there with the shot and following the scene, but on the emotional side your heart is pounding.”
Barash and Shatz wrapped up most of their filming just before Covid hit, but they returned to Lenox Hill Hospital to shoot Episode 9 as their characters coped with an unprecedented epidemiological threat.
“They soldiered through these months in the hospital which were super tough,” Barash said. “They have a calling to do their job.”
Check out the panel video above.
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