#HotDocs22 ‘Il Posto’ Review: A Sobering Look at a Health System in Crisis

The nursing profession is put in the spotlight in Il Posto, or ‘A Steady Job’ which had it’s North American premiere at this year’s HotDocs Festival. It’s an intimate look at healthcare workers in Italy, as they confront the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic specifically. It’s a broader story, however, about how issues in healthcare systems around the world were simply amplified during the pandemic. 

For starters, the nursing profession in Italy is far different from how we conceptualize it in North America. As we get to know this group of healthcare workers, it’s clear that while there are absolutely similarities, the healthcare system itself is structured far differently in Italy than it is in North America. It’s clear as viewers get an intimate look into these workers’ lives that even they conceptualize their work in healthcare very differently. 

There’s a cultural commentary about employment here also. For the last several decades at least, generations of Italians have been vocal about the fact that consistent work is difficult to find. This is why there’s been a noticeable emigration movement, Italians of all ages, but mainly young people, have consistently sought to make lives outside of Italy, for better economic opportunities. The reasons for this are multifaceted but include general political instability and apathy.

The issues that the Italian healthcare system faces are not unlike issues in North America. Although the Italian healthcare system is consistently ranked well compared to other countries, it’s not without it’s faults. Patient care can vary wildly even within a publicly-funded system. It’s interesting to get actual healthcare workers’ on how this plays out in the day-to-day. It’s also fascinating to hear discussions about how healthcare is widely considered a “stable job” when in many parts of Italy, qualified professionals can struggle to work in their field. 

COVID specifically only emphasized the problems healthcare systems around the world faced. These are issues that healthcare workers, like those featured in this movie, have been talking about for years. Inadequate funding and resources didn’t just begin during the pandemic. In many ways, unfortunately, the pandemic was a continuation of these problems only at a greater scale. The workers featured in this movie absolutely recognize it and see it play out while they provide patient care. 

Finally, the pacing of Il Posto is absolutely perfect for the sort of movie it is. Not a moment is wasted and the viewer is always given time to reflect on what is being presented. The structure of the movie itself provides plenty of breathing room. By the end, the viewer feels like they’ve gotten to know these workers better. 

Il Posto does a fantastic job of spotlighting real workers impacted by systemic issues, and how they navigate this. It’s a topical story, tailor-made for the current time we’re living in when healthcare workers have never had this much awareness in the public eye of what we do everyday. It’s a meditation on the beauty and challenge of daily existence. 

Il Posto has its North American Premiere at the HotDocs Film Festival May 3, 2022.

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