Magazine article Screen International

Speed Sisters

Magazine article Screen International

Speed Sisters

Article excerpt

Dir: Amber Fares. Palestine-US-Qatar. 2014. 80mins

An engaging high-octane documentary that delves into both the problems facing Palestinians and the struggle for women to be accepted in a profession not normally associated with them, Amber Fares' debut feature Speed Sisters is a savvy and at times nicely spikey film about the first all-women rally team in the Middle East.

Speed Sisters celebrates the verve, skill and admirable sheer bull-headed determination of these talented drivers.

The film, which had its world premiere as opening night of the second annual Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha, Qatar, is an accessible and illuminating account of how five young women (four drivers and their forthright manager) take on the Palestinian Motor Sports world on their own terms.

Set against a backdrop of a country facing restrictions on movement with military occupation naturally presenting issues a-plenty, Speed Sisters tackles the political and practical issues but never makes them the focus of the story - instead it is about the women, their lives, skills, and their passion for screeching doughnuts and the need for speed that defines the film.

Competitive car racing started in Palestine only in 2005, but the Palestine Racing Federation owns no land and operates its events in empty lots, and while drivers practice their skills anywhere they can find space the women drivers - Marah Zahalka, Noor Daoud, Betty Saadeh and Mona Ennab (overseen by manager Maysoon Jayyusi) - hone their skills in a patch of land close to an Israeli detention centre.

The four determined drivers are all very different personalities, all of whom feel they were born to drive, but who also have to face up to disappointment, criticism, pressures from society and arbitrary rulings. Marah is the most naturally talented driver, but suffers from lack of money, with her car built by her father and friends; Betty, who was born in Mexico, is aware that her blonde hair and looks help get sponsorship; Noor is a free-spirit who favours 'going for it' rather than planning things out, while accident-prone Mona races for the sheer love of it. …

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