Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. It has a population of well over 1 million people (about 1.3 million at the last count, according to various online sources I just checked). It has streets full of potholes. It has many people requiring medical attention every single day. Unfortunately, it also has just 13 ambulances. Sofia’s Last Ambulance rides along with one of those thirteen vehicles, in the company of Krassimir AKA Krassi, Mila and Plamen as they rattle along those pothole-covered streets while doing their best to keep in touch with HQ and receive directions for their next job.
The obstacles between the medical team and their patients are many and varied. The streets and traffic, the inability to remain in contact with HQ when they need essential details, the people who waste their time while there are others in genuine need of more serious attention.
Krassi, Mila and Plamen somehow manage to keep their spirits up in between medical emergencies by looking after one another and remembering that they’re a group as opposed to individuals being hammered down by the constant troubles of each shift. It’s almost like watching a family struggle through their darkest days, and I’m sure that they feel as close to one another as family members, considering what they endure together.
One person has been dead for so long that their head has decomposed, one little girl – who had a wardrobe fall on her – struggles against pain as Mila tries to heep her amused in the back of the ambulance, one man refuses to stay in the correct position while the pain of a broken leg makes him agitated and unable to think clearly. If that all sounds a bit grim to watch then don’t worry, director Ilian Metev wisely decides to avoid showing the patients. The camera stays on the three members of the ambulance crew, with details gleaned from their conversation and interaction with the patients.
As you may have gathered already, this isn’t exactly a laugh a minute. The fact that it’s also not a consistently disheartening experience throughout says a lot about the people involved and the enduring nature of people determined to do good. If you watch this while living in a country that has any kind of half-decent health service then this will make you appreciate that privilege. If you happen to watch this while in an area that has similiar problems with its infrastructure to Sofia then maybe, just maybe, it will spur you on to help make things better, if possible. As these individuals prove time and time again, one person can make a huge difference.
DIRECTOR: ILIAN METEV
STARS: KRASSIMIR YORDANOV, MILA MIKHAILOVA, PLAMEN SLAVKOV
RUNTIME: 76 MINS APPROX