September 20

The Devil’s Driver @TIFF 2021

The Devil’s Drivers has the formula of a Steve McQueen’s chase film as it follows Palestinian smugglers on high-speed trips to help workers cross the border.

The film is an intimate portrait of a group of smugglers risking everything on high-speed trips to help Palestinians workers cross the border into Israel every day for work. Banned from obtaining legal work permits in Israel, and cut off from their lands, and water sources by the Israeli settlers, these men risk everything to provide for their families.

An investigation into the human condition under the most difficult circumstances and an understanding of how to remain a decent human being in a world falling to pieces, the film underscores the harsh reality Palestinian’s face in day to day life.

“On the left side is Israel, on the right side is Palestine,” explains Hamouda as his beat-up car speeds through the desert trying to evade Israeli soldiers. His mission is to smuggle Palestinian workers across a southern gap where Israel’s border wall hasn’t been finished. Without viable jobs in the West Bank, they’re desperate to cross to where labour is in high demand. If they’re caught, everyone in the car will go to jail. Still, this gamble remains their best hope.

The film documents the way Israeli soldiers treat any Palestinian in transit as a potential terrorist. Israeli agents actively recruit informers, causing ripples of suspicion throughout the community. Soldiers pressure Palestinian villagers to erect blockades on their property or face the penalty of having their homes destroyed.

The filmmakers take the passenger seat for a series of rides. Despite the conditions, their camerawork captures striking images of faces, landscapes, and situations that will stay etched in your mind for a long time to come.