What if all you ever wanted was to fit in?
From the producer of Two Spirits comes a compelling look at one of the world's most remarkable hospitals, the disfigured young patients to whom it offers new lives, and the team of surgeons, physicians, and medical professionals who believe it's the best place in the world to practice their unique, life-transforming craft.
You'll come away convinced that health-care can be affordable, humane, and excellent, and that every one of us deserves a face with which we can bravely meet the world.
Hospital General Gea Gonzalez, located in Mexico City's frenetic Tlalpan district, is surrounded by a high metal-barred fence, its entrances guarded by policemen carrying automatic weapons. On any day, literally thousands of impoverished Mexicans wait patiently for services, often for many hours, yet the hospital's plastic and reconstructive surgery unit is also what Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, its eighty-eight-year-old founder, calls "the most exciting clinic in the world, the only place I want to be."
It is a hospital that ably demonstrates that even the very poor can receive excellent medical care at costs that don't bankrupt health-care systems and that everyone can be offered the basic human right of a normal face.
Beautiful Faces interweaves the stories of patients and their families who come to the reconstructive plastic surgery unit at Hospital Gea Gonzalez seeking physical transformations that will renew their own and their loved ones lives with the personal stories of the enormously talented medical professionals whose work is both their passion and their gift to humankind.
The film chronicles the remarkable community of caregivers and care-receivers who come together on the hospital's fascinating fourth floor, and who profoundly influence each others lives. From Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, the beloved patriarch whose demands for excellence from his subordinates remain exacting, to four-year-old Sebastián Castillo, whose irrepressible enthusiasm for life helps him cope remarkably with the challenges of Crouzon's syndrome, Beautiful Faces is a mosaic of stories--the richly visual tales of people who meet in a singular place and who collectively understand that in valuing individual lives and striving to make them better, we value all of humanity.
Beautiful Faces ultimately demonstrates that, in many ways, the distinction between patients and caregivers is only an illusory one, and that much more than cutting, sawing, and sewing, the essential task of the hospital is the freeing of the human spirit. It is work that allows doctors and patients alike to look comfortably in the mirror and understand that they are vitally important members of the human family.
In Reforma, Mexico's most widely read newspaper, columnist Federico Reyes Heroles writes about Beautiful Faces:
"Imagine a child who is born with two noses, or that a tumor occupies half his face, or that a cranial deformation prevents his brain from developing normally. Add to those challenges the cruelty of other children’s jokes, hurtful nicknames, ostracism, even contempt. . . . Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio and his protégés have specialized in these terrible and heartbreaking congenital deformities in children—or rather how to correct them. . . . It is impossible to describe the complexities of the surgeries they perform or the work they do, but I refer you to the splendid documentary Beautiful Faces . . . Over the years, the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Hospital General Gea Gonzalez—with its professionalism, capacity for innovation, quality, and compassion—has become a national and international reference point, the quiet pride of Mexico."
"Imagine un niño que nace con dos narices o un tumor que llega a ocupar la mitad del rostro, o una deformación craneana que impide que el cerebro se desarrolle con normalidad. Agréguese la infinita crueldad infantil que lleva a la broma sistemática, al apodo hiriente, al ostracismo o al franco desprecio. . . . Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio y sus seguidores tomaron esta segunda vertiente, la más terrible y desgarradora. Se especializaron en deformaciones congénitas en niños, debiera decir en cómo corregirlas. . . . Imposible describir la complejidad de las cirugías, mejor le remito al espléndido documental Beautiful Faces . . . Con los años, la División de Cirugía Plástica y Reconstructiva del Hospital General Gea Gonzalez—por su profesionalismo, por su capacidad de innovación, por su calidad y calidez—se ha convertido en un referente nacional e internacional, un orgullo silente de México."
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