“E-Team” has a ripped-from-the-headlines immediacy as it takes the viewer on an intense ride-along with Human Rights Watch investigators.
The immersive documentary, co-directed by Oscar winner Ross Kauffman (“Born into Brothels”) and Emmy nominee Katy Chevigny, follows four intrepid Emergencies Team members summoned to record potential human rights abuses in the war-torn countries of Syria and Libya.
Considering that the investigations take place during the Bashar Assad and Moammar Kadafi regimes, respectively, it’s not surprising that the team members often come face to face with graphic atrocities, including human slaughterhouses and civilian victims of sarin gas attacks.
Although their work involves interviewing eyewitnesses and gathering photographic evidence to build a case for violations of international law, the procedural stuff tells just half of “E-Team’s” compelling story.
We also see their home lives in Paris, Berlin and Geneva, and we are given a pretty good idea of just how little personal time they actually get in a day. As for what drives them, Peter Bouckaert, the gung-ho ballistics expert of the group, jokes: “There’s a certain level of satisfaction [catching] bad people.”
Obviously, with that satisfaction comes perilous risk. The film is dedicated to the memory of one of its cinematographers — James Foley, the American photojournalist executed two months ago by Islamic State terrorists.
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Royal, West Los Angeles.