RiverRun 2016: Driving While Black

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There are plenty of great things to say about Driving While Black, but the coolest part may be that it’s based on the real life experiences of Dominique Purdy, a creative partner and co-writer of the film who also stars as the lead.

Driving While Black follows a weed-smoking artist and pizza delivery driver in LA through his seemingly endless travails with the police. Purdy — a recording artist and comedian — plays an instantly likable dude that is just scraping by, and who for much of the film is trying to make it to a job interview with a company that leads touristy Hollywood home tours. But the police, more than anything, stand in his way, often jacking him up for no reason and at one point pulling over a friend’s car in front of a Black Panther mural. 

“My f*** the police attitude didn’t happen overnight,” he explains. “The police showed me at an early age that they didn’t like us much.”

It’s easy to see why the fast-paced film has already picked up 14 best-feature awards — the acting is great, the subject important and the mood generally comedic. Maybe when you go see it you’ll run into Purdy and director Paul Sapiano — they’ll be in town for the festival.

Driving While Black screens on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre.

— Eric Ginsburg