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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Poslednata lineika na Sofia" )

 

directed by Ilian Metev
Croatia/Bulgaria/Germany 2012

 

Sofia, Bulgaria is a city on the verge of economic collapse where thirteen ambulances must attempt to service the needs of two million citizens. SOFIA'S LAST AMBULANCE is a far cry from EMERGENCY! in terms of dramatic rescues, nor is it an indictment of the city's neglect of medical support services. It follows a doctor (Krassimir Yordanov), a nurse (Mila Mikhailova), and a driver (Plamen Slavkov) on a tumultuous shift as they respond to cases verging from trivial to urgent (when it's not entirely too late as the dispatcher sometimes has cases backed up by days). Deliberately turning the camera away from sensationalism (even refusing to catch a glimpse of a patient or relation when they drift towards the frame) and the everyday lives of its protagonists, the film instead explore the personalities of three people who stay in job that is low-paying, understaffed, and has a high turnaround (through boredom, frustration, or the need/opportunity to make more money elsewhere). Expertly distilling two years worth of ride-alongs into seventy-odd minutes, director Ilian Metev manages to convey with narrative brevity the scope of cases and their outcomes, the attitudes of the public towards the ambulance services, hints of their personal lives, their tactics to deal with their patients (and sometime exasperating relatives), the humorous banter they use to deal with stresses of the job, and their frustrations when either dealing with unnecessary calls or when they've arrived far too late. The final long take is wonderfully ambiguous as we notice one of the trio absent and the accompanying silence; since the material is assembled from so many ride-alongs, it's just as possible that the missing member of the team is out sick, on vacation, or actually has quit out of frustration.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 14 March 2013 (Germany)

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DVD Review: Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:16:42 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.46 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Bulgarian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with director Ilian Metev and sound recordist Tom Kirk (16:9; 17:12)
• Short film 'Goleshovo' (16:9; 34:32)
• Liner Notes Booklet by Betina Ip

DVD Release Date: 13 October 2014
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Second Run's dual-layer disc features a high-bitrate, anamorphic transfer that is appropriately noisy given the camerawork (dashcams with automatic exposure and a cameraman who has to adapt to rapidly changing lighting situations). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is all talk (the three main participants had wireless microphones while the sound recordist did his best to pick up audio from patients and onlookers with a shotgun microphone from varying distances), garbled radio dispatcher replies, and other live sound. The optional subtitles are without errors, even though they sometimes seem overly mannered in their attempts to translate the banter between the three characters.

Director Metev and sound recordist Tom Kirk - a British expatriate in Bulgaria - carry on a warm conversation about the project's origins, Metev's research, Metev's decision not to film the victims, editing decisions, the camera set-up in the ambulance, and Kirk's recording techniques. The booklet features more interview responses from the director as well as some additional background on the film. Although it is cut to look like a twenty-four hour shift, it was assembled from two years of footage (with Plamen's changing hairstyles causing continuity errors). The disc also features the short film GOLESHOVO about the residents of the titular village, fifty-nine of which are all that remain.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

 

 



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