In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
Midnight Family tells the story of Juan Ochoa, whose family runs an unlicensed EMT business in Mexico City. Working in some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoas use a black market police radio to locate emergency calls. When lucky enough to arrive first to an accident, they charge patients 3800 pesos (185 USD) for transport to a hospital.
Unlike many competing ambulance operators, the Ochoas initially seem to be a trustworthy exception within this fraught and ethically complicated industry. As desperate patients wait for hours when government ambulances are nowhere to be found, the Ochoas arrive quickly, filling serious medical needs. However, it gradually becomes clear that their approach to business is far more complicated.
The film’s story unfolds as the status quo of the Ochoas’ business has been jeopardized by increased police enforcement of EMT regulations. The new and aggressive pressure forces the Ochoas to try obtaining documents that would legitimize their ambulance. As we come to care for Juan and his family, we also begin to fear that their desperation for money and long-term participation in an inherently corrupt system is a barrier much too large to overcome by legal means alone.
About the Filmmakers
Luke Lorentzen is a recent graduate from Stanford University's department of Art and Art History, where he studied Art History and Film Studies. His short film, Santa Cruz del Islote (2014)—a short documentary about a small and densely populated fishing community in Colombia— has won awards at over ten international film festivals including the San Francisco International, Full Frame Documentary, Camden International, and Chicago International. His first feature documentary, New York Cuts (2015), explores six hair salons in disparate cultural enclaves of New York City. The film had its world premiere at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and its US Premiere at the Camden International Film Festival. Luke is also part of the creative team behind the recent Netflix documentary series, Last Chance U. His work explores elements of everyday life, often through rigorous formal means, questioning and experimenting with the ways in which non-fiction stories are told. Originally from Connecticut, Luke is now based in Brooklyn.
Kellen Quinn graduated from Wesleyan University in 2005 with a dual degree in Film and Russian & East European Studies. After an internship with Albert Maysles, Kellen worked on several short films, music videos and feature documentaries. From 2006 to early 2009, he worked at the Tribeca Film Festival, first on the festival’s original content team, and then in the programming department. From April 2009 to May 2012, Kellen was the deputy director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. In late 2012 he developed Aeon Video for Aeon Magazine, a curated program of short documentaries that he still manages. In 2016 he was among six producers selected for Impact Partners’ Documentary Producers Fellowship. He currently lives between Minneapolis and New York City where, in addition to his work on Aeon Video, he is producing several feature-length documentaries.