SPEED SISTERS || 2015, Palestine / USA / Qatar / UK / Denmark / Canada || Documentary || Directed by – Amber Fares || Running time: 78 mins.
The Middle East is a territory that constantly inspired filmmakers. However, for once, there are more positive vibes than usual to be found in Speed Sisters – a feature documentary about five charismatic young Palestinian women who put together the first team of female racing drivers in the Middle East.
The subject is of course intersting for many reasons, but two in particular. The first is that somehow, motor sports are not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Palestine. The second is that if car racing in the so called Western world is male dominated, one would presume the situation would be a little more intense in a territory traditionally marked by its conservative religious and ethical beliefs.
The film follows the story of each one of the women of the team. Thus, it presents an arrange of different cultural background, and different individual personalities. Two of the girls who for instance come from a more privileged family background have completely opposite personalities; one is a tomboy, the other is much more girly. One of the girls in the team comes from a particularly empoverished area of Palestine, but despite some opposition from most of the older generation living in the area, is hailed as one of its heroic representatives and enjoys full support from her loving father.
Speed Sisters is an entertaining documentary, and director Amber Fares does not seem to be interested in delivering a documentary from a patronizing, neo-colonialist perspective. There are moments when the film are genuinely funny, such as the scenes in which CNN runs a story on the girls. There are times when the film is downright exciting, such as in the racing scenes. However, even Speed Sisters can’t escape from the drama of its setting, revealed in the scenes near the checkpoints where gunfire erupts. The news is that the film is not dominated by such moments, and it seems that this is also because for the Palestinians, these are events are simply, albeit worryingly, part of everyday life. The documentary is more invested in the racing and its protagonists on a human level. And it’s a good thing too because there in the process, it develops into quite an inspirational tale. – 4/5