Wednesday at RIDM

Reviews of two documentaries screening today at RIDM – one from Mexico and one from Morocco.

The 22nd annual Montreal documentary film festival RIDM (Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal) runs through Nov. 24. Here are reviews of two films screening today.

Midnight Family

Six million people live in Mexico City, but there are only 45 government emergency ambulances. The lack of proper care has created a vacuum where for-profit EMTs and private ambulance companies have come to fill the void. Midnight Family follows one such family trying to survive in this industry, the Ochoas, as they drive around the city at night looking for work. With the camera intimately placed in the interior of the tight ambulance quarters, as a viewer we are brought along on the ambulance chases to various car wrecks and incidents. Between moments of violence and life-saving endeavours, the banality of their life of waiting fills with arguments, food and financial worry.

Midnight Family presents a morally complex vision of the Ochoas family. They are saving lives and doing so because the government has failed them. They are also opportunists, though, targeting people at their most vulnerable; they care for them and bring them to hospitals and demand payment. They don’t always get the money, and even when they do, most of it goes towards the upkeep of their vehicle and bribes to police officers. What the film lays out, though, is that when medicare is for-profit, everybody loses. Choices that are not in the best service of the patient are made, and even if you want to condemn the Ochoas for preying on people, they barely survive day to day. (Justine Smith)

Midnight Family screens at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8:30 p.m. and at Cinémathèque Québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve E.) on Thursday, Nov. 21, 8:15 p.m.


In Imider, a small village in Morocco, the citizens have been protesting for nearly a decade. Their community is located on Africa’s largest silver mine, and the water meant to sustain their lives has long been diverted and poisoned in the extraction of minerals. The village collectively organizes peaceful protests to be heard, and even the film is collectively made. A demonstration of resilience and creativity, the film is a portrait of sustained resistance and solidarity. In spite of facing off against many hardships and figures of authority, the village does not back down. 

The film also works as a portrait of changing landscapes. The loss of water has a profound effect on the survival of a beautiful and miraculous oasis, and the ability of the village to continue to be self-sustaining. Losing water means the loss of these spaces for agricultural but also peace and reflection. As the trees begin to die, we sense the profundity of their quest not only to sustain their life but the life that surrounds them. Due to the nature of its creation, the documentary has more of a creative framing and does not follow a linear chronology. More than capturing a timeline of events, it captures the emotions and actions of people as well as the passage of time. (JS)

Amussu screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 3 p.m.

See the complete RIDM program here.