In 2014, war broke out between Israel and Palestine and the city of Gaza suffered 51 consecutive days of bombing. While most people tried to get as far away as possible, young filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly grabbed his camera and joined a group of paramedics headed straight for the front line. The result is Ambulance, a raw and powerful film about a conflict most Western media outfits only explored superficially.
What’s most striking is that from the off, Jabaly is vocally disinterested in espousing a political agenda. “Some people will tell you the war started for one reason,” he says, “and some will say it started for another reason.” Like the ambulance crew that he follows, Jabaly is here to do a job – politics would only get in the way.
Jabaly’s camerawork is unsophisticated and unflinching. In some scenes the view flits nervously from side to side, trying to anticipate where the next explosion or injured civilian will come from. In others it stares, unblinking, at bloodied and broken bodies lying in the rubble of what used to be houses. Jabaly may not wish to discuss the causes of the war, but he wants nobody to be in any doubt of its terrible consequences.
And yet, there is also hope – in the scenes of children playing in fountains during the Eid celebrations, or quiet moments sharing jokes with the paramedics, Jabaly gives us a glimpse of Gaza’s former glory, and what the city might return to.
Broad in scope but also deeply personal, Ambulance is a stunning piece of journalism and a harrowing account of the immense (and sometimes irreparable) damage war can inflict on a civilian population. This is Mohamed Jabaly’s first feature film, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
DIRECTOR: Mohamed Jabaly
SYNOPSIS: From the very first day of Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014, filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly has been there with his camera. He follows a team of paramedics in an ambulance, eventually becoming a core member who bears witness to their perilous and heartbreaking rescue work.