THIS SCREENING IS PART OF THE JUSTICE FORUM SERIES AND WILL INCLUDE A POST-FILM DISCUSSION.
In July of 2014, Israeli ground forces moved into Gaza in an escalation of the war with Hamas. Without preamble, Ambulance opens on a community in panic. A bomb has just fallen, turning the home of filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly’s neighbour into a pile of rubble. So begins a close-up view of war that barely gives us time to catch our breath, let alone consider the broader context. Sometimes film has no more vital function than to bear witness.
Ambulance is a visceral experience. Faced with an urgent moral crisis, Jabaly is compelled to help his people and document Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” from the ground. Against the protests of his family, he joins an ambulance crew — speeding towards the worst of the devastation, even when every instinct is telling him to run the other way. With a handheld camera, he documents the terrifying aftermath of missile attacks, careening trips through the streets of Gaza, as the city literally falls around them, and the frantic efforts to save lives at hospitals that lack even the most basic equipment. The pragmatic courage and gallows humour of ambulance driver Abu Marzouq propels the film, taking Jabaly and his camera directly into danger, and giving us a view of war that is almost too close to the action.
Jabaly’s unflinching view of the chaos of war comments on the Israeli occupation and the conflict in Gaza, but ultimately its power is even more basic. Human vulnerability, courage, and resilience transcend politics and remind us exactly what is at stake when the technology of war meets the fragility of life. The resolve of those working amid the danger is humbling. In this ground-level view of the conflict, answers are hard to find, but the human crisis is undeniable. -JC