Passenger Seat

  • Director

    Neha Gautam

  • Country, Year, Length

    United States, 2022, 18:13

  • Category

    Family Friendly Short

  • Format

    Arri, digital

  • Festival Year


Film Screening & Ticket Information

When & Where to See this Film!

OVER THE FENCE: 7 stories about getting to where you must go.

April 23, 2024 @ 9:30PM • Kaufman Astoria Studios – Zukor Theatre

View the Trailer


A young Pakistani girl from Queens, New York finds her relationship to her father shifting as his taxi business starts to decline with the rise of ride-share apps.


Neha Gautam, Director, Without Say, Chosen Family, Juana
Neha Gautam, Writer
Angbeen Saleem, Writer
Saleem GondalP, roducer
Syna Bhuva, Key Cast, “Neela”
Kal Mansoor, Key Cast, “Adeel”
Rikki Porter, Cinematographer/ DP
Mohammed Morsy, Assistant Camera
Deboleena Maitra, Sound Recordist
Jenstar Hacker, Sound Mix and Music Manager
Chelsea Hicks, Editor
Khaula Malik, Wardrobe
Manvir Singh, Production Design
Cédric von Niederhäusern, Colorist

Director Statement

Growing up as the daughter of a taxi driver, I didn’t like the troupes I saw in movies of working class South Asian men. Most of the South Asian men around me that drove a cab weren’t at all like the characters I saw on television at all, including Apu in the Simpsons. They were sweet and dignified.

I co-wrote Passenger Seat with a friend who was also the daughter of a taxi driver. We wanted to portray the tenderness of daughter/father relationships that we knew personally and also in a way we had not seen before in films. The year before we started writing the screen play there were 14 taxi drivers that committed suicide in New York because of their medallion debt. We took the opportunity to engage with the hunger strike that was led by the New York Taxi Workers Union who saw no way out of debt. They ultimately won their demands last year.

While making the film, I worked closely with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the New York Taxi Workers union who helped us find the taxi we were looking for, gave us feedback on the script and also asked us to document their strike which ultimately made it into the credits.

Director Biography

Neha Gautam is an educator, filmmaker, and community organizer. Neha was born in India and lived in both Ethiopia and Alaska before moving to New York City at the age of twelve. She earned a dual BA in History and International Studies at the City College of New York (CUNY). She began pursuing photography and video in 2006 at the International Center of Photography (ICP).

Neha has over fourteen years of community organizing experience. She is a documentarian who is committed to bringing visibility to the South Asian diaspora as well as the social justice movements in and around Queens, New York. She believes that visual media are powerful tools for creating social change and giving voice to communities living on the margins or in exile.

Neha holds an MFA from the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema where her focus was in directing. Her short films and documentaries have screened at over fifteen film festivals including the Bentonville Film Festival, Queens World Film festival, The Oregon Documentary Film Festival, New Faces New Voices festival and Katra Film Festival. Her documentary Where The Light Enters has won a number of awards including The Best Experimental Film Award at The Oregon Documentary Film Festival.

Neha is passionate about creating healthy communities. When she is not documenting behind the camera, she loves dancing to house and hip-hop music.