It was a coincidence that the last Gaza war broke out in the summer of 2014, the same day that young Palestinian Muhammad al-Jabali was supposed to start filming a government hospital in the Palestinian town, commissioned by the administration of the hospital itself for propaganda purposes. purposes related to the services it provides.
Instead of returning home with the intensification of the Israeli war, Al-Jabali asks the hospital administration to allow him to accompany one of his ambulances to photograph her during her work daily in these exceptional times.
From this video material, the young director compiled his tough documentary “Ambulance”, which was shown at the last edition of the “Edfa” Documentary Film Festival, and before that at the prestigious “Sheffield Documentary Film Festival” “in Great Britain.
The film “Ambulance” belongs to the documentary cinema that is born without planning, and is a spontaneous response to stormy public events, and sometimes – as in this film – acquires a double importance for reasons related to the window it opens onto everyday life in the Palestinian city of Gaza, which was almost isolated from the world during the war.
The images that arrived in Al-Jabali’s film stand out from the mainstream media coverage of the Gaza war, with their sometimes poetic and different angles of focus. While television footage tends to go straight to what it sees as the public event worth covering, Al-Jabali stands out for its generally cautious approach to events.
The secret of the film’s distinction was that it came from the heart of the experience in terms of the images it portrayed in those days of destruction in its various forms, and moments of collective Palestinian fragility, and not content with violent scenes of blood, despite the importance of these also for the general scene that the film tries to retain.
Image resistance… pain beyond the power of the camera
Much of the film’s time is spent inside the ambulance, as it moves between the hospital and its destinations in the dark and lonely city that has just been hit by the army of Israeli air, but the camera was able to provide scenes characterized by the ability of the scene that exposed him to the ravages of war in the city, forming a prelude for the director to tell the story of this film. / p>
The director describes his relationship with the camera with passion, but carrying the camera during the war will become the only act of resistance and closest to the spirit of the young man, even if what he will see and testify can sometimes exceed his capacities, so he decides after days of war to stop filming, which will be revealed in full transparency to the viewer of his film.
An open lens on collective pain… the vitality of the film
The film records its beat on the rapid movement of the ambulance, after an unsuccessful attempt at dialogue with members of the ambulance team, baffled by the director’s stereotypical questions about their feelings as they perform this work in exceptional circumstances.
In addition to what it reveals about the atrocities that took place in a war in which most of the victims were civilians, the ambulance would give it a vitality rare in Arab documentary films, as the director had to keep pace rapid movements of the ambulance as it passed through empty streets.
Whereas the loading times of the wounded and their families in the ambulance and their arrival in the halls of the hospital will be determined; The moments when the director leaves his lens open to collective pain.
The film “Ambulance” by its director, “Muhammad Al-Jabali”, belongs to the documentary cinema which sees the light of day without planning
An old man covered in dirt and blood .. difficult emergency scenes
“Ambulance” is full of scenes that are difficult to watch, as is the case in all films shot in wartime hospital emergency rooms, and has accompanied characters through the most difficult circumstances of their lives. p>
Among these difficult scenes in particular are the moments when the grief erupts of Palestinian civilians who have just heard of the deaths of their loved ones, or those which show the wounded like this old lady who arrived completely covered in blood and blood. dirt.
The aesthetics of the cinematographic image… an escape from the eviction of the international press
TV and press cameras would quickly arrive at the hospital that Jabali was filming, and they would cram the young director to get photos from their TV channels and newspapers, so it sometimes became difficult to photograph an interior scene without dozens of journalists appearing in the frame. .
The director doesn’t hide his complaints about this press attack and instead focuses on filming scenes from the ambulance that no one competed with.
The film benefits greatly from its release from the burden of restoring war and celebrating the aesthetics of the cinematic image itself, which will give this film a long life.
Although the young director stopped escorting the ambulance a few days before the end of the Israeli war, he will continue to document the war and its effects on the stricken city, portraying in this regard a gathering of civilians waiting to return to their destroyed neighborhood.
The ambulance driver and the young girl… the strongest scenes in the film
Al-Jabali struck up a new friendship with another ambulance driver, a man over 50, who continued his work as he approached death every hour, and the director will tell us at the end of his film that this Palestinian driver was killed in the last days of the war.
The film was full of strong and moving scenes, but the most powerful and artistic scenes in the film were not of the victims or their families, but of a five-year-old Palestinian girl sitting next to the driver of the first ambulance, and the director filmed it with a long, breathtaking scene staring out of the ambulance window The Crashed, as the extremely serious driver’s face reveals many secrets from hell that have passed him and the debtor.