The Apothecary

Source: International Documentary Association http://www.documentary.org/feature/2014-student-academy-awards-documentary-winners

Director: Helen Hood Scheer

Rating: 4/5

Apothecary and Miraculous Tales

The Apothecary and Miraculous Tales were shown together at this year’s Hot Docs. Both documentaries are about small towns with big problems. The former tries to solve its problems by looking to the past, while the latter tries modern methods with seemingly similar results.

The Apothecary

This is short documentary that made its international premier. Directed and written by Helen Hood Scheer, it’s narrated by Don Colcord, who is a stalwart of a downtrodden Colorado town that has fallen to ruins after the end of the local mining business.  Don’s official title is pharmacist but the town residents rely on him 24/7 for every medical and non-medical question.  Unbeknownst to the community he serves, Don is guilt ridden about the one person he cannot save, his wife. While Don seems like a genially giving person, you eventually realise that his intentions are not completely altruistic. He is also using his role to escape his deteriorating situation at home, a sick wife who has been in pain and bed-ridden for decades, and a grandson he is trying to raise.

Helen Hood Scheer does a great job of highlighting the symbiotic relationship between a rural town and a man, while using the man’s life to tell a town’s story and vise versa. There is not a wasted moment, and the viewer is emotionally engaged from beginning to end. I give this movie 4 stars and encourage everyone to see it. It will be 17 minutes well spent.

Esther Simera