Movie trade magazines report that Joshua Marston, acclaimed writer-director of Maria Full of Grace, is writing a script about American truckers hauling in Iraq.
Marston reportedly will write and direct the yet-untitled film – now known simply as “The Iraqi Convoy Project” – for Warner Independent Pictures, a division of Warner Bros.
The fictional story reportedly will focus on financially strapped American truckers who sign up for a lucrative one-year job hauling goods for U.S. contractors through the war zone. No release date has been set, though producers reportedly are pushing to have the film done as soon as possible, given its timeliness.
The first film Marston directed, Maria Full of Grace, was about a desperate young Colombian woman who becomes the “mule” of a drug cartel, carrying packets of heroin into the United States in her stomach. The low-budget 2004 release was hailed at many film festivals and won the coveted Audience Award at Sundance. Its star, newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, the first Spanish-language performance ever so honored.
As reported by Truckers News in a July 2004 cover story, many American truckers have been lured to Iraq since the U.S. invasion in April 2003. Some earn tax-free annual salaries as large as $120,000, but many complain that Halliburton and other employers did not tell them how violent and dangerous the environment is.
Jeff Mills, a National Guardsman from Iowa, hauled soldiers, prisoners of war and ammunition in a five-ton straight truck in Iraq from June 2003 to April 2004. Mills told Truckers News he drove 40-year-old trucks that often lacked sufficient armor to ward off the improvised explosive devices used by the insurgents.
Mills said the one of the most important things to remember in Iraq is not to drive close to other trucks in the convoy, so if a truck is attacked, only one rig is in the “kill zone.”
One American trucker, Thomas Hamill, gained national recognition after escaping from his captors in Iraq. Shot in the arm and captured by insurgents April 9, 2004, Hamill spent 23 days in captivity before fleeing the small stone farmhouse that held him and making a mad half-mile dash to a passing U.S. military convoy.
After recovering in a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, Hamill returned to his family and friends in Macon, Miss., where he received a hero’s welcome. He said he was just glad to be home and hoped that truckers got more respect when people heard about his ordeal. He since has co-written a book, Escape in Iraq.