The Devil’s Drivers | Film threat

ANNOUNCEMENT OF SFFILM FESTIVAL 2022! The Devil’s Drivers documents the work and lives of Bedouin cousins ​​who evade the Israeli defense force to bring undocumented Palestinian workers through the Negev desert to take temporary jobs in Israel. The film is written and directed by Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty. They met in Germany and spent years traveling to the West Bank to film Palestinian struggles, pursuing all means necessary to feed families and keep their culture intact.

The film begins in 2012, where Hamouda and his cousin Ismail are paid by future workers to drive them out into the desert across the border. Army patrols are vigilant and chase them down, often arresting the smugglers and confiscating their vehicles. The IDF is strict on the border due to terrorist attacks by Palestinians. Despite being few and far between, the impact in terms of loss of human life and the optics of the attacks drive them to keep the border closed.

Israel also maintains strict control of the border through a Palestinian worker approval process that allows them to track who crosses into Israel. Work permit approvals can be difficult to obtain. Mahouda’s city and family land are uncomfortably close to the Israeli settlements, but the Palestinians themselves are denied basic services such as running water. The cars they drive are specially modified and maintained by likeable local mechanics so that they can withstand the rough roads and sometimes off-road tracks that drivers have to take to avoid getting caught. During the years of filming, Ismail even decides to return to being a shepherd to make sure he is near his children. An elderly man named Ali, also a shepherd, is caught in the act of looking after the drivers from his high vantage points with his flock. The IDF punishes him by having his home and neighbor’s home overburdened, exposing them to the harsh elements.

“… which eludes the Israeli defense force to bring paperless Palestinian workers… to take temporary jobs in Israel. “

Abugeth and Carsenty shot The Devil’s Drivers over eight years and the footage is spectacular. Despite the guerrilla film’s “run-and-gun” process, the cinematography is stunning: beautiful desert views scattered in crystal clear widescreen. The film is a close look at the harshness of life for the Palestinians and ends with the grim note that without a political solution, they and their way of life will not continue.

Spending time with Ali, Mahmoud and Ismail is revealing. They are fiercely devoted to their families and their people and willing to risk it all to make a living by bringing workers across the border into Israel. The situation also reflects a similar dilemma faced in the United States. We have people who are willing to risk their lives on deadly desert crossings into the country to take low-paying jobs because there is a demand for that work. If there was no one who paid undocumented workers to work, they would not cross. But in none of the cases are the sanctions for employing them financially / criminally threatening enough to deter practice.

To The Devil’s Drivers is fresh from the Palestinian perspective and gives the viewer the opportunity to experience the dangers and challenges of everyday life in the West Bank. This will cause some controversy. There is a tendency for polarization in the media, where any call for sympathy for Palestinians is interpreted as being anti-Semitic. This should not be an either / or situation. One can work towards a solution that allows both cultures to continue in peace and enjoy a life in safe harmony according to their own ways. But what can a simple film critic know when Yitzhak Rabin was shot for saying the same thing?

The Devil’s Drivers shown in 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and 2022 SFFilm Festival.

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