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Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders (2010)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 28
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 2

An unflinching, inspiring look at amazing bravery and commitment, Living in Emergency disappoints only in leaving the viewer wanting more.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 2

An unflinching, inspiring look at amazing bravery and commitment, Living in Emergency disappoints only in leaving the viewer wanting more.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 274

My Rating

Movie Info

Bosnia. Rwanda. Kosovo. Sierra Leone. Pakistan. Just a few of the world's humanitarian and political crises in the past years. Whether the result of war or nature, these disasters devastate populations and cripple health systems. Despite the immense dangers and difficulties of the work, one organization, Doctors Without Borders, has continuously intervened at these frontlines of overwhelming human need. Set in war-torn Congo and post-conflict Liberia, Living in Emergency interweaves the stories


Documentary, Special Interest

Dec 1, 2010

Truly Indie/BEV Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (2)

There's a bit of a gore factor here, obviously, but this is mostly a movie about brave people trying to hang on to their hearts while saving others.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With limited resources, the MSF is compelled to fly from crisis to crisis, and there is never any real closure. The film shows us the anger and disbelief of those left behind.

June 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The good they accomplish is clearly dwarfed by the people's suffering, which keeps on going even after the war ends and the mission departs.

June 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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The film confirms it's hard to do brain surgery on a battlefield. But it doesn't take a brain surgeon to think it could go deeper.

June 10, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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These doctors are hard on themselves and on one another, and as Living in Emergency chronicles their small triumphs and large frustrations, a larger picture emerges, almost despite the film's avowedly local emphasis.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Dynamic, informal and observant yet, while never grueling, it offers a constant provocative contrast between backgrounds of spectacular and beautiful natural scenery and primitive living conditions.

June 4, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Excellent, no-frills...

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

An arresting if limited film about the work of the medical-humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontičres, whose volunteer doctors provide emergency aid in some of the world's poorest, wartorn countries.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Honest, beguiling and unpretentious, but not one for the faint-hearted.

March 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Some of the purely medical scenes here will test your capacity for human suffering, but that's a minuscule impression of horrors these doctors face daily in far-flung corners of the globe.

June 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

The documentary's title makes it sound like a hagiographic look at saintly doctors in war zones, but Living takes off the halos and keeps them off.

June 18, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Utterly engrossing.

June 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

An unblinking portrait of the French humanitarian organization and, ultimately, a positive one ... It's a distressing film to watch, but it's not without hope.

June 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

Like a good non-fiction film should, Living in Emergency simply presents its observations. Then you get to decide for yourself if you feel bad, glad, mad or willing to add

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinematical

The true stories and struggles depicted are gripping -- more so than most medical dramas. Collectively, four doctors represent a revealing cross section of Doctors Without Borders volunteers, and provide insights about how the NGO operates.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source:

A portrait of doctors doing the best they can in hellish circumstances that shows them as more human and heroic than ever.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

Rather than going in depth, "Living in Emergency" is loaded with examples to demonstrate various ways it is difficult to treat people in poor countries as a doctor who is used to the clinical endowment afforded by wealthy economies. It's so demoralizing, most volunteer doctors don't ever do more than one trip. The movie is perhaps too spread out, following four doctors in four different hospitals and hardly adventuring out from their management of chronic frustrations at day-to-day limitations and defeats, but it succeeds in showing us both the emotional toll of being such a doctor and why some are still able do it anyway.
December 18, 2013
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

Doctors working for Doctors without Borders, known internationally as MSF (Medicins sans Frontiers), struggle with the challenges associated with practicing medicine under the worst conditions.
I think I've fallen in love with Dr. Chiara Lepora. She evinces everything this film is about: she's strong-willed, caring, and aware of the distance between what is and what should be. And she's kinda hot. But what one leaves with is a recognition of both the pressures associated with this work and the rewards, and for me, Lepora became the metonym for all of this. This documentary displays the poverty, the sickness, and the triumph that working with MSF entails, and the doctors emerge as flawed heroes, which, in this world, are the only real kind of heroes that exists.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and if I ever meet Lepora, she's going get my number.
October 2, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

"Living in Emergency" is an insightful documentary about Medicins Sans Frontieres(Doctors without Borders) and their operations, focusing on the critical spots of Liberia and the Congo. The former is pulling itself out of the wreckage after a long civil war while the latter is still a war zone. Despite the risk, there are many doctors who volunteer but few are accepted to work alongside native doctors in their countries. There seems to be little to unite the volunteers except there are a lot of heavy smokers amongst them for some reason. One volunteer said he did not like working in the corporate health care system of the United States. The job is difficult with a typical mission lasting about six months. Very few return for a second one because no matter how hard they try, it is only a drop in the bucket. In many parts of the developing world, there is very little health infrastructure to build on and this is "low grade medicine," oftentimes involving preventable diseases.(One doctor comments that his grandfather would have been comfortable in these surroundings.) Good luck with finding a CT scan but at least I know now what kind of drill bit to use to drill into somebody's head.(By the way, this documentary is not for the squeamish.) Since there are so many people without adequate healthcare in the world, difficult choices have to be made about which countries receive aid. After the screening, a fellow audience member mentioned that he felt sad and angry. I cannot really disagree with him, except to say that I also felt a little hope that there are people like these who are trying to make a difference.
August 11, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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