DRIVER (Tribeca 2024)- Review by Leslie Combemale

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Maybe you think you know the career or job where women are most egregiously abused and harassed. Whatever you say that job is, long haul truck driving would give it a run for its money. That becomes abundantly clear in Driver, documentarian Nesa Azimi’s alternatively meditative, enraging, and joyful film.

Driver follows Desiree Wood, long hauler, educator, and founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Real Women in Trucking, as well as a number of her female fellow truckers. It shows their experiences, which range from struggling to keep their trucks, stay housed, and stay safe, to finding camaraderie, mentorship, and a true sisterhood with each other. The amount of harassment, aggression, sexual abuse, and manipulation by big industry (or what they call “Mega Trucking”) is worse that most people could possibly imagine. Rape culture is alive and thriving all around them.

As she drives to make the deadline to her destinations, Wood takes calls from women who have encountered anything from sexism and ageism to sexual violence. She negotiates deals for her next pick up, or confronts men in accounts payable about unfair charges that risk the loss of her truck. She problem solves, jokes with mechanics, and offers a shoulder to cry on for those in need.

Azimi and her film crew have a way of getting a level of intimacy and truth from Wood and her sisters in trucking that makes the screen time fly by. Even with all the struggle and risk, these women love their jobs. They love the freedom and self determination that for them is part of their lives on the road. Accompanied by an atmospheric score and gorgeous landscapes, Driver takes its audience on an emotional journey that captures just a bit of the joy, anger, fear, and freedom these women face on a daily basis.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren on her own website, CinemaSiren.com, and is a frequent contributor to MPA's TheCredits.org, where she interviews filmmakers above and below the line, with a focus on women and diverse voices. She is the Senior Contributor at AWFJ.org. Leslie is in her 9th year as producer and moderator of the influential "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. She is a world-renowned expert on cinema art and her film art gallery, ArtInsights, located near DC, has celebrated cinema art and artists for 30 years.