SDAFF 2022: ‘Nurse Unseen’ Reviewed — An Informative And Moving Profile On Unsung Heroes

Michele Josue is an award-winning filmmaker whose feature debut, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, earned an Emmy. For her next movie, she explores a personal subject because of her ethnicity: the history of Filipino nurses in the United States. This year’s San Diego Asian Film Festival provided a sneak peek at Nurse Unseen.

The film is well paced and structured in an organized way allowing the viewer to easily follow along with the different narratives. It begins with interesting background on the historical and cultural factors that led to the rise of Filipino nurses emigrating to America. Even for someone familiar with the subject and grew up with many family members in the field, there are still new insights and nuances to be learned. This information helps establish a firm foundation before diving into the more personal stories.

Nurse Unseen tries to paint an all-encompassing picture by interviewing a wide variety of people. The nurses span different generations as well as those educated and trained in the Philippines or domestically. Though predominantly associated with women, there are even a few male nurses spotlighted. By having such a diverse pool of subjects, it highlights their shared experiences while also keying in on factors that cause them to vary.

The only argument is how heavily New York- and Los Angeles-centric it is. There is a reasoning, and as Josue mentioned in the Q&A session afterwards, there needed to be defined boundaries or else all the content wouldn’t fit in a single movie. She wanted it to serve as a jumping off point for the viewer to go into deeper if they were interested.

The more powerful aspects of Nurse Unseen occur later as it ties in with the pandemic and the rise of Asian hate; both of which would have a significant impact. It will have you feeling all sorts of emotions from anger at the conditions they endured to heartbreak towards the tragedies that resulted from said conditions. The firsthand accounts provide an inside look at the tumultuous early period of COVID-19 when much wasn’t known. The scenes reinforce the bravery these people had doing their jobs in a time of crisis. However, there are uplifting stories to balance everything out. Longshot recoveries and vital wins against the higher ups leave the film on a positive note.

Nurse Unseen is an informative and moving profile on unsung heroes of the American healthcare system: the Filipino nurse.

The San Diego Asian Film Festival runs from now until November 12.

Michele Josue is an award-winning filmmaker whose feature debut, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, earned an Emmy. ForCOMICONRead More

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