Corinne May Botz '99 (Photography) was awarded the grand jury prize for short film at this year's DOC NYC, the annual documentary film festival held in New York City and largest of its kind in the country.
Her film, Bedside Manner, explores the world of standardized patients, who are professional actors employed to train medical students on diagnosing diseases and illnesses, as well as to help them practice their bedside manner.
"I saw the performances as a way to explore the theatrical nature of medicine and to ask questions about interactions between doctors and patients," Botz said.
Among the questions raised by these "surreal" simulations are whether or not students could learn empathy through practicing medicine and how the dynamic between doctor and patient questions issues of representation, psychology and an overall perception of reality.
At the center of her film is Dr. Alice Flaherty, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard University, who is researching the neuroanatomy of empathy.
The many layers of Flaherty's work ("She is a doctor learning how to be a patient, in order to teach doctors how to be better doctors," as Botz clarified), give the film a unique perspective on the process of becoming a medical "authority," and how that experience relates back to the regular lives of doctors and patients.
As director, producer, editor and cinematographer, Bedside Manner was a new challenge for Botz, who described the film as a "very big endeavor and a labor of love." As a trained photographer, the biggest challenge was transitioning to film. "I'm used to photographing without assistants and ‘finding' my shot while taking a still image. You have to know exactly what you want beforehand with a film shoot."
With the encouragement of this award, Botz looks forward to making more films as a way of expanding her current photography practice. "Film makes a lot of sense to me because marginalized stories, the subjectivity of the storyteller and modes of representation are all central to my creative inquiry."
For more information on Bedside Manner, visit Botz's website.
This page was last updated on 12/08/2016.