Shortlisted, Best Documentary Feature
  • Sundance Film Festival

    Special Jury Award for Cinematography
  • Guadalajara International Film Festival

    Best Film, Best Director
  • Bergen International Film Festival

    Best Documentary
  • Gijón Film Festival

    FIPRESCI Rellumes Award for Best Director
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival

    Best Documentary
  • New Directors/New Films

  • Cine Las Americas

    Audience Award
  • AFI Latin American Film Festival

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Spanish with English subtitles


In Mexico City, the government operates fewer than 45 emergency ambulances for a population of 9 million. This has spawned an underground industry of for-profit ambulances often run by people with little or no training or certification. An exception in this ethically fraught, cutthroat industry, the Ochoa family struggles to keep their financial needs from jeopardizing the people in their care. The Ochoas operate out of one of these private ambulances with an all-male crew ranging in age and experience. This dangerous job, however, is not a lucrative business. Many times, their passengers will neither have insurance or enough money to pay for their services, however necessary their intervention may have been. When a crackdown by corrupt police pushes the family into greater hardship, the family face increasing moral dilemmas even as they continue providing essential emergency medical services.

Mixing riveting and grueling scenes of life-or-death moments and candid moments outside of their job, including scenes like Josué playing in the back of the ambulance, Juan’s therapeutic phone calls to his girlfriend, and the family’s routine to get ready for work, Midnight Family is both a compassionate portrait of a working-class family and a frightening ride through a broken healthcare system that risks the lives of both patients and providers like the Ochoa family.


“Critic's Pick. Outstanding... Fantastically shot by the director Luke Lorentzen, the documentary develops an urgency that suits the life-or-death stakes onscreen. By turns terrifying and exhilarating, Midnight Family unfolds with such velocity that it may take a while for your ethical doubts to catch up to what’s happening. When they do, they leave you gasping.” – Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ PICK

“Arguably the most exhilarating documentary to come out of Sundance this year, Midnight Family follows the Ochoa family—the gruff but compassionate Fer and his two underage sons, Juan and Josué—at intensely close range on these Sisyphean missions of mercy.”MUSEUM OF MODERN ART AND FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER

“A deft mix of big-picture doc-making and intimate moments... not to mention a wild—and remarkably eye-opening—ride.” – David Fear, ROLLING STONE

“An intimate verite documentary... the Ochoas emerge as fascinating embodiments of a country working overtime to correct its shortcomings and keep the lights on. This bracing U.S. competition documentary is poised to provide a personal window into the fast-paced mayhem of Mexico after dark.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE

About the Director
Luke Lorentzen is a graduate of Stanford University’s Department of Art and Art History. His most recent film, Midnight Family, tells the story of a family-run ambulance business in Mexico City. The film has won over 35 awards from some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals and organizations including a Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival. Midnight Family was shortlisted for the 2020 Best Documentary Oscar and was a New York Times ‘Critics’ Pick’.

Luke’s other work as a director and cinematographer includes one of Netflix’s most-watched original series, Last Chance U, which has been nominated for an Emmy and Critics Choice Award. Experimenting with the ways in which non-fiction stories are told, his films take viewers into hidden worlds to meet otherwise overlooked, hard-working people.

Notes on Film

“[It was] a little bit of a spontaneous decision. I was 23 years old and didn’t have a job. And I had a few ideas of films that I wanted to try and make… The ideas I was trying to pull off just weren’t really working out. But one morning I woke up and, parked right in front of a house that I was living in, was the Ochoa family and their private ambulance. I guess I was curious enough to ask them if I could ride along for a night…

There would be weeks at a time where I wouldn’t see a single government ambulance showing up to accidents. You have families like the Ochoas that see a need for more ambulances and take it into their own hands to start these for-profit ambulance companies that chase each other to accidents and compete for patients…

[I] saw this whole underworld of for-profit health care that was raising really big ethical questions, but also keeping a city from falling apart. The film is so much about these ambiguous ethical moments. And some [viewers] really want answers and find that to be sometimes unfulfilling. So it’s a balance of giving people enough to chew on and enough to really process what’s going on without giving you the answer to things that truly don’t have good answers.”

– Luke Lorentzen, DEADLINE