×

Paramedico

Uncomplicated and riveting, "Paramedico" depicts riding around the world in the back of an ambulance as a simple pleasure and a moving experience.

With:
With: Mitzi Garcia Rodriguez, Christopher "Tippy" Lee, Mitch Cam, Lodovico Pietrosanti, Emmanuela Silvestri, Mohammad Azam, Naeem Khan. (English, Spanish, Urdu, Venetian dialogue)

Uncomplicated and riveting, “Paramedico” depicts riding around the world in the back of an ambulance as a simple pleasure and a moving experience. Conceived and filmed by Australian paramedic and one-time feature director Benjamin Gilmour (“Son of a Lion”), the pic journeys to four different countries to reveal how lives are saved. Without a false note, this raw, invigorating and often joyful portrait of the profession will enthrall auds. Charmed by its immediacy, fest programmers will turn into ambulance chasers, while TV pubcasters will also answer the pic’s siren call.

A Benjamin Gilmour, McFillums production. (International sales: Benjamin Gilmour Prods., Sydney.) Produced by Gilmour, Alison McSkimming Croft.

After completing “Son of a Lion” in northwest Pakistan in 2007, Gilmour did what many directors are told to do: He went back to his day job. Still working as a paramedic in Sydney, he wrote a book on his international counterparts, which served as good research for this docu. Winning confidence with his own medical credentials, the helmer jumped into the back of ambulances in Lahore, Mexico City, Honolulu and Venice and started shooting.

Eschewing voiceover, Gilmour lets the images speak for themselves by employing a day-in-the-life structure, intercutting stories from across the globe. In each location, the job has a distinct character. The Venetian ambulance is a boat, natch, and those in need of medical attention often live at the top of ancient, elevator-free buildings. Diabetes cases run rampant in Hawaii; Lahore paramedics need to prepare for terrorist attacks; and Mexico City has numerous gunshot victims.

Everywhere, however, it’s the paramedics’ fortitude that resonates. Small but frequent annoyances, like faulty and expensive-to-fix gas gauges, are juxtaposed with the grueling reality of working double shifts to make ends meet.

While the differences are stark, the paramedics’ universal similarities make the docu feel cohesive. Whether they’re treating the elderly or helping drunks who have injured themselves, each region’s paramedics are shown to be men and women of commitment and compassion as they tend wounds inflicted by accident or malice. Self-taught helmer and lenser Gilmour captures all the action in clear but sometimes confronting shots on par with professional news reportage. Editor/co-producer Alison McSkimming Croft’s editing keeps things flowing, organizing the material into recognizable segments, as when they contrast the paramedics’ choices of spiritual nourishment or different approaches to down time, so necessary for them to maintain their resolve. Sound quality is sharp enough to catch most of the dialogue, and breezy lounge music forms an effective counterpoint to the intensity of these life-and-death scenarios.

Popular on Variety

Paramedico

Australia

Production: Directed by Benjamin Gilmour.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Gilmour; editor, Alison McSkimming Croft; music, Aaron J. Trew; sound, Gilmour. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival (Australian Documentary), June 15, 2012. Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Mitzi Garcia Rodriguez, Christopher "Tippy" Lee, Mitch Cam, Lodovico Pietrosanti, Emmanuela Silvestri, Mohammad Azam, Naeem Khan. (English, Spanish, Urdu, Venetian dialogue)

More Film

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan'Always Be My Maybe' film

    'Fresh Off the Boat' Creator Nahnatchka Khan Signs First-Look Deal With Netflix

    Netflix has signed “Fresh Off the Boat” creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan to an exclusive multi-year first look deal for feature films. Khan made her feature film directorial debut with “Always Be My Maybe” starring Ali Wong and Randall Park. The romantic comedy premiered on Netflix in May and was seen by 32 million [...]

  • The Mover

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category. Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as [...]

  • The Sky Is Pink

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Sky is Pink'

    Shonali Bose’s much-laureled 2014 “Margarita with a Straw” was a film whose presentation of a cerebral palsy-afflicted heroine sidestepped all the usual hand-wringing inspirational clichés of disability portrayal, making her story all the more enlightening and affecting. It is particularly disappointing, then, that the director’s followup should approach another tale of genetic infirmity with all [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content