Sundance 2019: Midnight Family

A still from Midnight Family by Luke Lorentzen, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Luke Lorentzen.

The Ochoa family gets profiled in Midnight Family as a result of the EMT service that they provide for patients with medical needs in Mexico City.

Like any family, they have their own financial issues.  In spite of this, they still keep doing what they love because it means helping those with a medical need.  Things may be different below the border than they are in the US where certified volunteers run their own EMT service (see last year’s 93Queen).  In Mexico, the police are giving the family more than enough stress over their current business practices.  Part of this is a result of what happens when you have corruption within the government.

Here’s an important statistic: there are 9 million people living in Mexico city.  There are only 45 government operated ambulances at any time.  I don’t know about you but this number is extremely low.  Because of this, a number of for-profit ambulance services have popped up.  The people who run those services have next to no emergency training or certification.  I would think that this is a major problem so I can see where the city police are coming from in that regard.  Take Hatzalah or Ezras Nashim, for example.  Both of these volunteer organizations specialize in the Jewish community.  All of their volunteers have the proper training to work on patients.

Back to the Ochoas.  They don’t have a license and they’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years.  On top of this, they pay a bribe ($17) for every single call that they respond to.  Moreover, their fee to transport patients is $185 but this is only when those patients can afford it.  Most of the time, this family is serving the people that Mexico City has all but forgotten.  Somehow this family manages to find a way to make it work.

One can look at this movie and really turn it into a discussion about healthcare.  Is it a right or a privilege?  What sort of responsibility should the government show when it comes to healthcare?  Should police officers be bribing those people who run an EMT service when the city doesn’t have enough vehicles?  Do families that run their own for-profit ambulance need to be official or can they keep doing what they do without a license?  Personally, I think that they should have some sort of paperwork on file but the corruption at hand brings even more questions than answers.  It’s almost as if this becomes a moral dilemma as one keeps asking the hard questions.

The more that I think about Midnight Family, the more I think that healthcare issues may never truly be solved in my lifetime.

DIRECTOR:  Luke Lorentzen
FEATURING:  Juan Ochoa, Fer Ochoa, Josué Ochoa, Manuel Hernández

Midnight Family holds its world premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.