Eye For Film >> Movies >> Body Team 12 (2015) Film Review
Body Team 12
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Between March 2014 and September 2015, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia killed at least 4,809 people. The medical teams tying to deal with had a very difficult job, and not just in terms of their emotional well-being and the direct risk posed by the disease. One of their biggest challenges they face is in persuading the relatives of ebola victims to part with the bodies. It's in the two to three days after death that these are most infectious, but that's exactly when people want to hold funerals, which traditionally involve final hugs and kisses. The risk of transmission presented by this is high, but telling somebody who has just lost a loved one that the must let strangers take them away, never to see them again, never to have a grave to visit - well, that doesn't tend to go down well.
The eponymous Body Team 12 was at the forefront of this difficult and sometimes dangerous work. Documentarian David Darg followed them, going into places many people were desperate to flee. The first person to examine the bodies and the only woman on the team was Garmai, Here she explains the nature of her work and why she took the risks she did, to give her country a future.
As a woman, Garmai, by her very presence, sent a reassuring message to worried relatives, letting them know that familial concerns were not being overlooked, that the team were not cold-hearted outsiders. A natural in front of the camera, she has a charisma and warmth vital to doing the job, but she also has a steely sense of purpose. She's a face for all the unknown heroes who contained the West African outbreak and, in doing so, saved countless lives. She hopes that in the future, when histories are written, body Team 12 might be remembered, she says. With this HBO short included in the 2016 Oscar nominations, her wish might come true.
What looks like an extremely effective ebola vaccine is currently going through trials. With this in mind, one might hope that Liberia will never see such a terrifying phenomenon again. This film is a monument to all those who have no graves, and a valuable outlet for Liberian voices in discussion often dominated by Western narratives.Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2016