RiverRun 2016: Driving While Black


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