Amber Fare's award-winning documentary tells the story of five drivers – Marah, Betty, Maysoon, Noor and Mona – all determined to make it in the gritty, male-dominated world of Palestinian car-racing.
19-year-old Marah comes from one of the most socially conservative and economically depressed cities on the West Bank, and is the reigning champion at the start of the film. Betty, her biggest competitor, is a glamorous and immaculately groomed driver hailing from a wealthy family of racers. The racing federation authority's subsequent and questionable decision to place Betty, not Marah, at the head of the contest leaves the latter with two options: pull out in protest, or fight injustice and pursue the championship title.
Although Speed Sisters' central plot admittedly revolves around Marah and Betty, the film also depicts the other female characters’ drive to lead ordinary lives, despite the occupation. Through individual interviews, we discover the women’s daily plight in having to negotiate the norms imposed by patriarchy, religion and Israel – in addition to navigating traffic cones and rickety cars. Picking the wrong terrain for training could cost you a bullet in the hip. And slipping an engagement ring on your finger could find you hanging up your helmet.
In spite of her clear feminist stance, Amber Fare achieves the laudable feat of evading an overtly militant tone and conveying more often than not a warm, even affectionate portrait of men. Khaled, Marah's father, who wishes to offer his daughter those opportunities never afforded him during his refugee camp upbringing, also features amongst the film's stars. The soundtrack is a feast of world music, adding Arabic beats, Palestinian hip-hop to the thrill of tyre-screeching action.
Expect the Speed Sisters documentary to bring the same riot of adrenaline one might expect from a film about car-racing – but with a sharp political edge. Even if you're not a car fanatic, Speed Sisters is worth the detour to see the pace at which conventions are currently melting in the Arab world. The flurry of festival nominations and awards that the film has received shows that Marah, Betty, Maysoon, Noor and Mona are indeed breaking boundaries.
|What||Speed Sisters documentary review "Palestine's women racers unveiled"|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
25 Mar 16 – 24 May 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the film's official website|