PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Film Series Committee's first showing of the year couldn't hit closer to home.

The committee will screen "The Waiting Room," a hard-hitting look inside the emergency room at Oakland's Highland Hospital, and offer a post-film discussion with director and Piedmont resident Peter Nicks. The free event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave. in Piedmont.

Committee member Julie Chang said the film is especially timely as California and the nation begin to see the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act, known better as Obamacare. The law requiring Americans to have insurance went into effect Jan. 1, and the film poignantly examines how patients without insurance and their health care providers navigate an inadequate system.

"The staff at the hospital is so hardworking that you root for both them and the patients during the film," Chang said.

Highland Hospital sees a high number of uninsured patients, including victims of gun violence and other trauma. The personal stories of patients are told alongside those of the medical team, who are well versed in the practice of providing an emergency response for problems that should have been addressed through a primary care system.

Committee member Dina Hirsch said the film "raises questions such as how Obamacare, by expanding Medicaid, will impact places like Highland Hospital, which is already drastically overcrowded and overstretched."

The 2012 film won the San Francisco Film Critics Circle's Best Documentary award and the Golden Gate Award and Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. the Washington Post identified the documentary as one of the top 10 films of 2012, with a reviewer saying she wished she could show the film in the White House screening room.

"The Waiting Room" is the first feature documentary for Nicks, a veteran of television who edited the Emmy award-winning film "Blame Somebody Else," a documentary about 12 Nepalese men killed by an extremist group in Iraq. Nicks received his master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and lives in Piedmont with his wife and two children.

The screening of "The Waiting Room" is co-sponsored by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, the Piedmont League of Women Voters, Mulberry Market and DiversityWorks. Oakland's New Parkway Theater at 474 24th St. also will screen the film for free at 3 p.m. Feb. 1.

IF YOU GO
What: Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Film Series Committee's showing of "The Waiting Room"
When: Wednesday -- 6:30 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. film screening; 8:20 p.m. discussion with director Peter Nicks
Where: Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont
Information: www.diversityfilmseries.com and www.whatruwaitingfor.com