(Channel 4, 2003)
"An extraordinary documentary, a powerful and necessarily graphic portrayal of life in wartime.”
Nobody wants to be at the Battle Hospital. The giant tented camp close to the Iraqi border is run by Britain’s Territorial Army, and was sent out in advance of the allied invasion of 2003 to provide crucial trauma care to coalition soldiers. But more often, the staff are treating injured Iraqi civilians and children on fly-ridden operating tables. The hospital’s 650 staff (most of whom have been pulled from their civilian practices) try to escape their surroundings through brass bands and discos, but the reality of their task is inescapable. And soon the frustrated Iraqi fathers and children in Ward 2 are threatening to go on hunger strike in a bid to persuade the army to take them home.
Filmed over two months during an embed at 202 Field Hospital, this film provides a sobering glimpse of the reality of modern day field hospitals. In stunning cinematography (shot entirely on DV), it contrasts the graphic horrors of the operating theatre with the dream-like state invoked by living in a desert limbo.
Watch the full film below.
“Documentaries about war tend to show the sheer hell of it, or they are propaganda. And if they are about battlefield healthcare, they are M*A*S*H*. Olly Lambert’s gem of a film is all three of these, yet quite different and utterly surprising… Beautifully filmed in the colours of the desert camouflage, it combines a mirage-like quality with an unhurried pace.” London Evening Standard
“An extraordinary documentary, a powerful and necessarily graphic portrayal of life in wartime.” The Guardian
“A graphic reminder of the horror and futility of war. Compulsory viewing for all politicians.” The Observer
Sheffield International Documentary Festival
Fullframe Film Festival, North Carolina
Britspotting Film Festival, Berlin and Basel
Imperial War Museum, special screening, London
Visible Evidence Screening, Bristol
Production Company: Stone City Films
Film Editor: Stefan Ronowicz
Composer: Daniel Pemberton
Assistant Producer: Luke Jackson
Executive Producer: Bryn Higgins, Clare Duggan
Commissioning Editor: Simon Andreae
Camera, Producer, Director: Olly Lambert