Partners In Health co-founders Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Jim Yong Kim

The Hollywood Reporter— ‘Bending the Arc’: Film Review | Sundance 2017

Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos’ doc is about a group of advocates who sought to improve access to quality healthcare around the world.

A superhero movie world-premiered at Sundance to thunderous applause. No, not a comic-book kind of creature, but the real-world heroism of three gifted caregivers that took on the might of the medical universe and triumphed for mankind.

Bending the Arc unwinds as a stunning documentary about a team of young people — Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, Ophelia Dahl — whose charitable medical work 30 years ago in remote Haiti came to ignite a healthcare movement. Their mission: to deliver basic health care to those who had no access to even the most rudimentary medical help. Their obstacles: The World Bank, the medical establishment, dysfunctional governments and the poverty and isolation of their patients.

Sagely blending a vital mix of interviews, archival footage and cinema-verite shooting, directors Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos have delivered a glorious and uplifting film. Supported by writer Cori Shepherd Stern’s strong narrative spine, Bending the Arc is a heartwarming and radiant offering. Most magically, it transcends the colossal power of its own story to show how individual beings, one step at a time, can right the course of inequality and injustice.

It was roughly 30 years ago that medical student Paul Farmer ventured to Haiti to undertake a one-man mission to bring healthcare to a nation ravaged by tuberculosis. Flying back-and-forth from med school, Farmer did what he could to serve people who had been abandoned by their own government and international humanitarian institutions; they were left to die of TB, a disease that could be thwarted by proper medical treatment. During his foray into the most remote regions of Haiti, Farmer met up with a fellow idealist, Ophelia Dahl, a social activist, whose credo was also “to light one candle.”

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