We Are One Film Festival: Day Four
Online Screen Editor, Jim Norman, discusses the original documentary short, Blood Rider, from day four of the We Are One Film Festival
Aside from programming a collection of feature films, shorts and conversations from around the world, the We Are One Film Festival has also opted to distribute a number of premiers, allowing them to work in a manner similar to some of the largest public festivals. One such film was available on day four of the festival and it is magnificent.
Blood Rider is an original short documentary from fresh-faced director Jon Kasbe. It explores the work of Joseph, a delivery driver for the Nigerian Life Bank charity. Men such as Joseph are to transport blood from blood banks to the hospitals where it is urgently required. Every second counts, and the gridlocked Nigerian roads make the motorcycle ride extremely difficult and dangerous. The journey from bank to bedside usually takes up to 24 hours, but the Life Bank charity consistently makes the journey in under 60 minutes.
Alongside Joseph’s narrative, Kasbe also films a pregnant woman, Deborah, whose labour is expected to imminent. Blood Rider takes these two storylines – each with the potential to be a documentary short themselves – and places them into a structure where they are certain to meet.
For a film where the central narrative drive is to keep the heart pumping, the tension-filled 17 minutes certainly succeeds in achieving just that
By first introducing us to Joseph and Deborah respectively, Kasbe creates a sense of alignment with each of them as we would expect to find in fiction. Yet Blood Rider is not fictitious. Sweeping overhead shots of densely gridlocked traffic accompany Joseph telling stories about when he has arrived too late to a delivery in the past, missing the opportunity to save a patient’s life by just seconds. The film is coated in a sense of dread which is only heightened by Nathan Halpern and Chris Ruggiero’s ticking clock score that rises as Joseph weaves through traffic with his bike in an attempt to get to his destination on time.
This is a job about which I knew nothing prior to watching the documentary, and the film makes clear to address the actions of these riders in the heroic manner that they deserve. Of the many brilliant shots captured by the team of cinematographers, there is a standout moment in which Joseph bikes past a lorry with the words ‘Son of God’ printed across its windshield. For a fleeting moment the camera ceases to pan, capturing Joseph with these saintly words lingering over his head.
Just as the two storylines meet at a point, so to do they part as they follow their set trajectory. This ‘X’ narrative provides a determined sense of ‘life goes on’, with each protagonist extremely reliant on the other but blissfully unaware of their existence.
For a film where the central narrative drive is to keep the heart pumping, the tension-filled 17 minutes certainly succeeds in achieving just that. The Life Bank charity is incredible; its drivers are heroes.