“Year 2014, 51 days, 18,000 houses and 500,000 dislocated” – the documentary Ambulance summarises the toll of the Israeli offensive against Gaza that year. The film is a first-person account of the event, as director Mohamed Jabaly takes the passenger seat in an ambulance helping the victims of the tragedy, transporting them from the rubble at the building hit by Israeli missiles to the local hospital.
The images in Ambulance are very graphic and shocking, not for the faint-hearted. The film is an eye-opener to the world about the physical and emotional plight of the Palestinians two years ago – a genuine and raw insider’s view. There are seriously-wounded victims covered in soot and dust being removed from the sites, there is blood on the floor of the ambulance, bone fragments on road, large desperate crows and relatives of the victim expressing despair in the most epic ways.
The attacks happened precisely during Ramadan two years ago, which Muslims around the world are also observing right now. The difference is that back then there was no time for prayer, reflection and self-examination. For these people, its is mostly about survival. The UK equivalent would be more or less relentless bombing London in December, as people attempt to celebrate Christmas with their families.
Ambulance is a disturbing film because the human tragedy is all too real, unlike what you see in Hollywood movies. The blood here is real, so are the bones and the screaming. Reality sometimes is far more cruel than fiction.
Despite its enormous sociopolitical relevance, Ambulance lacks a cohesive narrative. Instead, it feels like an unrelenting A&E register, with little voice-over and artistic significance. The heklmer does not raise his voice above the clamour, and he does not contextualise it either. He never gets behind the wheel – in both the literal and the connotative sense. While very respectful of the victims, does not reflect on the urgency of the situation.
The director claimed that hanging to the camera made him feel safe. Filming is a voucher for relative security and sometimes even a lifesafer for filmmakers. Earlier this year, the Chinese activist and filmmaker Nanfu Wang clung to her device as a means of survival, in Hooligan Sparrow – click here in order to read our review and find out more.
Ambulance is showing at the Curzon Soho in London on June 12th, and it is also part of the Sheffielf Doc/Fest – click here for more information about the event.
Watch the film trailer here: