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Beautiful Faces

Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Russell Martin
Directed by Russell Martin
DVD , color, 76 min.
General Adult
Health Sciences

Reviewed by Kay Hogan Smith, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 7/11/2013

This is a poignant documentary revealing the work of renowned and dedicated plastic surgeons to remake the disfigured faces of mostly young patients into that which society finds more acceptable. It may surprise many in the United States, but these extraordinary physicians, as well as the excellent facility in which they operate, are located in Mexico City rather than in the wealthier northern countries. The eminent physician from whom the others take their lead is Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, the facility the Hospital General Gea Gonzalez. The elderly Dr. Monasterio is shown in the film talking to patients and instructing doctors, his compassion evident throughout. All of the doctors interviewed in this film apparently work on a volunteer basis at least some of the time, and the miraculous surgeries they perform for patients from all over Mexico and other countries are often provided at a very low cost to the patients. However, it is the families and the mostly young patients who truly inspire viewers with their spirit and courage in the face of sometimes harsh prejudice and fear from other people.

Much of the documentary is narrated in Spanish with English subtitles, but the themes examined in this lovely award-winning film are universal: the parentsí love and hopes for their children and the passionate dedication of the doctors are the two main themes. There is also a scene with a grieving doctor after an unexpected post-surgical death of a patient that is heart-breaking. However, the primary mood one finds in this film is one of irrepressible hope. This would be an excellent film for undergraduate social sciences classes as well as those for medical students, particularly those interested in plastic surgery as a career.