Experiencing Interruptions?


From Raleigh to Appalachia, North Carolinians are living with curable cancers, heart disease and other conditions. However, they can't afford to get treatment, because North Carolina didn't expand Medicaid. Left Behind goes deep into North Carolina to explore the economic and social cost of the thousands who are "left behind' by North Carolina's healthcare laws.

  • Ky Dickens
    Zero Weeks, Sole Survivor, The City That Sold America, Fish out of Water
  • Ky Dickens
    Critical Condition, Zero Weeks, Sole Survivor, The City That Sold America, Fish out of Water
  • Alisha Hawkins
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    18 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 3, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    100,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K, Alexa Mini
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Ky Dickens

Award winning filmmaker Ky Dickens is best known for her highly acclaimed documentary work and her endless list of questions.

Ky’s latest film THE CITY THAT SOLD AMERICA (2019, GRAVITAS) is about Chicago’s crucial, yet often-overlooked, place in American consumer culture. The film is a sequel to Emmy-award winning Art & Copy. Her 2018 film ZERO WEEKS (FREESTYLE), about America’s paid leave crisis, premiered the trailer at the White House Summit on the United State of Women, hosted by Oprah and Michelle Obama. ZERO WEEKS won five awards on the festival circuit and is being used by state legislatures, businesses and hospitals nationwide to move the needle towards a national paid leave policy. For three years, Ky has been working with corporate and non-profit boards across the country to help shape paid leave policy. Her leading partners include The White House Council on Women and Girls, The US Department of Labor, MomsRising, Family Values at Work, Mi Familia Vota and Caring Across Generations.

Ky’s 2015 documentary hit SOLE SURVIVOR (CNN FILMS), profiled four survivors of otherwise fatal plane crashes. It was named the “Best Feature Film” at the BMA Awards and premiered on CNN. Ky’s 2009 feature documentary, FISH OUT OF WATER, won four juror prizes and secured international distribution by First Run Features. The film was inducted into the United States Library of Congress in 2011 for its instrumental role in changing the national perspective on LGBTQ human rights. The film has been hailed as a “tool for reconciliation between the church and LGBTQ community.” It was translated into Spanish, Russian, Italian and French Creole and has screened at over 500 churches and universities. Ky has worked with over 200 churches, schools and LGBTQ groups across the world to help bring equity and healing to the LGBTQ communities, in particular communities of color.

Ky received the Focus Award for “Achievement in Directing” from Women in Film. She also received the “Change Maker Award” for influencing social change through art, in Washington DC in 2017, alongside Maxine Waters.

Ky’s latest project, CRITICAL CONDTION (2019) sponsored by the American Cancer Society, profiles Rural Kansans with no access to health care, debating between saving their lives or spiraling their families into poverty.

In addition to her feature film work, Ky directs commercials for some of the biggest brands in America. Her clients include Tylenol, Sears, McDonald’s, Koehler, Purina, Huggies, Hallmark, Kellogg’s and Wrangler. Ky is featured on the highly competitive “Free The Bid” list of the top recommended female directors in America. Ky graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from Vanderbilt University. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her family.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Left Behind is about the importance of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina and the film emphasizes how access to healthcare can harm North Carolina's number one economic commodity: agriculture. I have a heart for farmers because my spouse was born and raised on a sheep farm and my in-laws still farm that land. We spend a few weeks at the farm every year and I can see how difficult it has become to make a living as a farmer. Achieving quality, affordable health care is almost impossible for many farmers, making their risky line of work even more dangerous. Left Behind is part of a series of three short films - all looking at different states that haven't expanded Medicaid. The project was funded by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to bring light to how the lack of Medicaid is disproportionately impacting working people and rural hospitals.

We interviewed dozens of possible subjects and we wanted to be sure to feature a wide range of people who are living in fear, working hard and could benefit from Medicaid expansion. Because this issue matters to every demographic, every gender, race and every age group - we wanted show that range. Access to affordable healthcare matters in every corner of North Carolina. One of our subjects was a middle-age male farmer, another was a young farmer in her twenties. Our final subject was a mother of three and a pre-school teacher.

The most difficult moment for us to shoot was during a conversation with Richard over coffee. Richard has a really loving marriage with his wife of decades, Vicky. He loves farming and has an orchard that he hopes to pass down to his children. He fostered children and adopted two of his foster kids because he and his wife couldn't have kids of their own. Richard falls squarely in the Medicaid gap - meaning he isn't "poor enough" to receive Medicad even though he lives below the poverty line and he doesn't make enough to buy health care in the marketplace. There are no options for him. Richard has a history of heart disease in his family. His mother, father, uncles, brothers have all had heart attacks. Richard hasn't been able to go to the doctor in over ten years due to the cost. I asked if he'd go to the hospital if he had a heart attack and he said, "No. It would cost too much." He wouldn't want to burden his family with the hospital bill. Instead, he'd rather die and be able to leave them the farm. This is a decision that no person should have to make. It was heart breaking to hear him say this and to witness his wife, Vicky, processing his sentiment.

I want people to be open to the fact that talking about Medicaid is important and being educated about it is critical because lives are hanging in the balance. I think people have a lot of preconceived notions, prejudices, and misinformation when it comes to Medicaid. Every person we interviewed for the film is working hard and wants to work. Beyond that, lack of Medicaid disproportionally impacts the people working in agriculture in the state of North Carolina and that is the state's number one export. Expanding Medicaid is fiscally and socially responsible. One of our subjects, Adrienne, asked me why elected officials are playing God. For so many North Carolinians, the belabored conversation is playing roulette with her life and so many other lives. This isn't about politics. This is about human life.