Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Midnight Family

Mexico City is the most populous capital in North America. However, with 42% of the country living below the national poverty line, there is a huge divide between the rich and the poor. Despite having a population of nine million people, there is a distinct lack of state resources in many areas. None more so than in healthcare. Medical insurance and public hospitals operate alongside a loosely regulated private sector.

Despite its size, Mexico City only has 45 state-operated ambulances. This dearth of coverage has resulted in a number of private operators springing up across the city. In one of the capital’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family compete against other private emergency response teams for patients. Luke Lorentzen follows them in his new documentary Midnight Family. In a world of stiff competition, police obstruction and the miserly rich, they struggle to balance the competing priorities of helping people and making ends meet.

Midnight Family has it all. The Ochoa family are a charismatic, amusing and amiable bunch. Half of the joy of Lorentzen’s film is the dynamic between them. In a city where an ambulance may never arrive, their story raises a myriad of moral and ethical issues. As they struggle for economic survival, this tricky balancing act between responsibility and profit threatens to tips into darker territory. Featuring car chases, high jinks and life-threatening situations, Midnight Family is a fascinating glimpse into a morally ambiguous industry.

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