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The Surgery Ship
Director:Madeleine Hetherton
Producer:Media Stockade
Country / Region:Australia
Particular year:2014
Length of time:78 Minutes

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Out on theocean, a ship of doctors and nurses is traveling to the poorest of the poorliving in West Africa. It carries life saving medical services for people whohave none: children who suffer with terrible leg deformities, women outcastfrom their communities by birthing fistulas, vast tumors of all shapes andsizes which afflict the unlucky. With no medical help, sufferers must survivethe best they can - unless the ship is in port. The ship docks in a differentcountry every year and people come from all corners of the globe. It is thelast hope for so many - and if they miss the boat, there is no other chance. Onarrival, a flood of patients pours into the port, but in this medical lotterynot everyone can win. For the lucky ones, doctors will carry out lifesavingoperations on unbelievable cases. Many of these ills do not exist outside ofWest Africa and have never been seen before by these doctors.

       Nonetheless, thevolunteer medics must make on the spot life and death decisions. Some are toofar-gone to treat, others not deemed severe enough - and the worst group arethe patients in the middle, where the treatment may bring uncertain outcome,but no treatment means certain death. A confronting, complex journey for thevolunteer doctors and nurses, it will be a case of life and death for many ofthe patients. By the end it is not just the patients who are transformed. Theyoung nurses and doctors will be challenged to the limits of their training andabilities. 

       NERIDA is a young and idealistic yet inexperienced surgeon who will facea patient who cannot be fully cured. NEIL is mature doctor who has left hissteady practice to go to one of the most out of control countries on earth. DANwill form an unexpectedly deep connection with a young child, whom he mustleave at the end of the year in Guinea. Told through their eyes we follow thedramatic and confronting events as they unfold on the Surgery Ship.

Madeleine is an experienced director and producer workingacross a wide range of television documentary and top rating factual programs.Her long form documentary work includes directing the documentary series‘Making Babies’ (SBS) reviewed as ‘fascinating and moving’ (The Age), ‘BeatsAcross Borders’ (ABC /Cirque du Soleil) and ‘Love In Our Own Time’. Herfilmmaking has taken her around the world shooting in challenging locationsincluding diamond diving in Africa, wildlife trafficking in Burma and the remoteoutback of Australia.

Her work has been nominated for a number of awards includingADG for Best Directing and by the Association of International Broadcasters forBest Contemporary Documentary.

She has extensive experience in television documentary and factualprograms shooting and producing for major Australian production companies suchas Endemol Southern Star, IMG Media, Freehand TV & Cordell Jigsaw Zapruderincluding producing and shooting on over 60 episodes of the top rating ‘BondiRescue’ (Ch10/Nat Geo) as well as popular series such as ‘The Nest’ (SBS),‘Last Chance Surgery’ (Ch7/Discovery) ‘The Poker Star’ (Ch10) and mostrecently, the popular ‘Outback Truckies’ (Ch 7).

She recently completed producing and directing thefeature documentary ‘The Surgery Ship’. The documentary follows stories aboardthe worlds largest civilian hospital ship as it roams the coast of West Africa.