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'E-Team': Film Review

ETEAM Sundance Film Still - H 2014

The Bottom Line

Four international human rights investigators descend on political atrocities to determine accountability.

Opens

Oct. 22 (New York), Oct. 24 (Los Angeles); begins streaming on Netflix on Friday

Cast

Anna Neistat, Ole Solvang, Peter Bouckaert, Fred Abrahams

Directors

Ross Kauffman, Katy Chevigny

Filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny's film tells the story of four international human rights investigators.

PARK CITY, Utah -- They arrive first on the scene during international atrocities, but they don't carry weaponry or possess SEAL-like skills. They are the E-Team, or, The Emergencies Team. They charge to international crisis spots where human rights violations surely have been violated. This puts them smack dab in such places as Syria and Libya. They confront barbarism and vow to ferret out accountability. If discovered, they face torture and death.

In this spellbinding story, filmmakers Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman thrust us into the red-alert lives of four E-Team members. It's a comprehensive portrayal of these people's personal and professional lives. We see what makes them tick. Are they adrenaline junkies? Thrill-seekers? Not at all.

Above all, they strive to hold mass murderers accountable. By retrieving the hard facts and details from survivors at the scene, as well as their own instinctive investigations, they document bloodbaths that could easily be overlooked and forgotten. Often, they provide this information to the press, with the hopes of starting a firestorm of coverage and therefore awareness.

Like all top teams, the E-Team complements one another. The foursome consists of a married couple, Anna Neistat and Ole Solvang, who balance each other. Russian-born Anna is relentless and aggressive, while Norwegian Ole is even-keeled and analytical. Peter Bouckaert, dubbed "Big Bang" by Rolling Stone, is a weapons expert who can sniff out hidden armaments. The fourth member, Fred Abrahams, is highly articulate. His courtroom testimony against the monstrous Slobodan Milosevic is one of the film's most riveting moments and a great triumph for the goals and ideals of the team.

Throughout, filmmakers Chevigny and Kauffman put themselves in harm's way, as they film the horrible immediacy of such maelstroms as Moammar Gadhafi's last days. More recently, their camera followed Anna and Ole through Syrian apartment buildings, bombed to rubble and killing innocent citizens.

The film's technical team is exceptional. E-Team packs editorial punch in no small part to editor David Teague's powerful, swift calibrations, as well as T. Griffin's percussive score. The movie first screened at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. documentary competition.

Cast: Anna Neistat, Ole Solvang, Peter Bouckaert, Fred Abrahams

Production companies: Big Mouth Prods., Red Light Films

Directors: Ross Kauffman, Katy Chevigny

Screenwriters: Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman, David Teague

Producer: Ross Kauffman, Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness

Director of photography: Ross Kauffman

Editor: David Teague

Music: T. Griffin

No rating, 90 minutes