Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"While the women’s relationship with one another may be strong as houses, Azimi opens a window to the precarity of the industry."

Truck driver Desiree Wood’s T-shirt reads: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” It’s emblematic of the no-nonsense attitude that characterises her life and is, presumably, what led her to establish the REAL Women In Trucking group in a bid to improve equality and rights in her industry. Documentarian Nesa Azimi takes a fly-in-the-passenger seat approach as she hits the open road with Desiree and other women like her to capture their day-to-day lives.

As well as Desiree, we meet several other women truckers, including the dog-loving, no-nonsense Michelle Kitchin, who has spent more than five decades delivering goods up and down the highways and byways of America.

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The haulage cabin emerges as an ambiguous space. On the one hand, it’s often not just a way of earning a living for the women but their home. “I was just happy to have a truck over my head,” recalls Desiree musing on her life. As she and others tell their stories, it transpires many of the women are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault, so that the truck offers a haven of their own, free from fear. On the other hand, there’s a sense of the isolation of the space that feels more ambivalent. There are also the problems they face on the job, especially issues of sexual harassment and worse, during training, something RWIT was set up to counter.

All the more reason then for these women to have built a community, which though it may occupy a transient, liminal space, is as solid as a bricks and mortar estate. The solidarity and life-affirming nature of the women’s relationship recalls Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland in reminding us that it's possible to have a mobile neighbourhood. This is further reinforced as we the women coming together on a cruise ship holiday to let their hair down and talk shop.

While the women’s relationship with one another may be strong as houses, Azimi opens a window to the precarity of an industry where the price per mile has declined and where unscrupulous companies gouge the women via the loans for their trucks, which are frequently repossessed. It’s just another area where it seems the women’s empowerment of running their own lives comes with an opposing force that threatens it.

In between intimate access to various conversations, the camera - wielded by several cinematographers due to the three-year length of the project - also drinks in the landscapes as the truck passes by them. An existential reminder that life is a long and winding road and that perhaps we would all do well to take more notice of those who are passing along it, servicing needs we rarely even think about.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2024
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An exploration of resolute female long-haul truck drivers pursuing validation for their hard-earned work as they navigate the oppressive forces in their industry.

Director: Nesa Azimi

Year: 2024

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


Tribeca 2024

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