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Emergency first responders meet chaos with dissonant calm in this gripping short

This short documentary takes viewers inside a graveyard shift at an innocuous-looking San Francisco call centre. Employees sit in cubicles glued to computer screens and wearing headsets. While on break, they drink coffee, watch the news, and hit the gym. But, as 911 first responders, the calls they field are often a matter of life or death. The US directors Elivia Shaw and Paloma Martinez skilfully survey the dissonant character of this unique workplace. By tracking a regular night shift at the centre, the filmmakers observe how employees meet chaos and intensity with calm and command. Through a fly-on-the-wall observational style and brief interviews with the emergency responders, The Shift probes what draws people to this unusually intense job, and how they often struggle to compartmentalise their emotions when dealing with distressing calls.

20 July 2021

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