Watching the documentary Midnight Family is a master class in cinema verite. With cameras strategically positioned throughout an ambulance, we follow the Ochoa family on their seemingly full-time full-family job.

Mexico City employs about 45 public ambulances for over nine million residents. Obviously this is a life and death failure of the government and that gap is filled in by private ambulances, like the Ochoa’s. During the course of 81 minutes, we follow the Ochoa’s night after night, as the entire family crams into their ambulance to look for work.

There’s adorable young Josue who hangs out in a cubby hole when he’s not hamming it up for the family. Juan is the teenager who in some ways is the most professional of the crew, but at other times is more interested in talking to his girlfriend on the phone. Patriarch Fer has his own health issues but manages the family and the ambulance business. The cameras take us so intimately into their ambulance as they spend hours together every night in that cramped space. On the rare occasion they’re not working, we see their home isn’t much more spacious, with three men sharing a mattress on the floor. We live with this family for every unflinching moment of the film.

But there’s another inescapable story besides the closeness of the Ochoa’s. A private ambulance industry that operates outside the law is fraught with moral quandaries. Private ambulances bribe cops for tips to accident scenes then literally race each other through busy streets to get to the patient first. But they can’t help those in need quite yet, because they must wait for a public ambulance to either show up or not. In other words, these ambulances are quite literally standing by at accidents scenes for up to 45 minutes until critical patients have no choice but to accept their ride – and the subsequent charges.

Once the Ochoa’s, or any private ambulance, has “won” a patient, which hospital do you take that patient to? Do you take the patient to the closest hospital that might be the best for emergency services but might not help pay? Or do you take the patient to a more distant private hospital, maximizes the odds that the Ochoa’s get some payment for their work but risking patients’ lives? We don’t even know if any single member of the family has any medical training!

Midnight Family a riveting documentary told with extraordinary camera work. It’s hard not to fall in love with every family member, but it’s not easy to ignore all the ethical questions they raise.