Matthew Bunkell, from the Picturehouse Customer Service team, reviews this week’s Discover Tuesdays title: Speed Sisters.
Director: Amber Fares. Palestine/USA/Qatar/UK/Denmark/Canada 2015. 80mins.
Amber Fares’s debut feature, Speed Sisters, combines intrigue with admiration for its subjects, the Middle East’s first all-female racing team.
The film follows the story of five women from the occupied regions of Palestine with a common burning passion, but with very different perspectives on the task at hand. They include Noor, whose unconventional interests span way beyond her love of fast cars, and Betty, the most glamorous of the troupe who, in spite of preconceptions about women in white-knuckle sport, embraces more customary notions of femininity as well as the attention that inevitably follows the team in the wake of their success.
Bringing together an almost pop band-like mixed bag of personalities, the documentary allows the viewer enough time to truly understand the lineage of its subjects and what drives their story. Fares’s lens captures the trials of the individuals on the racetrack, at home and also within the context of the cultural climate. The film breaks down the stereotypes about Middle Eastern communities, which are often viewed from a Western perspective. Whilst acknowledging the very real prejudice of the more conservative areas of Palestine and older generations, the documentary treats us to a far more heartening view of men rejoicing at the idea of women donning helmets and tearing up the makeshift tracks.
At no point does Fares’s narrative trudge into the mire of scalding indignation as it touches on topics beyond the central narrative of women in a male-dominated sport. With tensions reaching boiling point on and off the track, the lives of these women come into conflict with one another and their peers. The team – Noor, Mahar, Betty, Maysoon, and Mona – works as a concise framing against a backdrop of occupied Palestinian territories.
Speed Sisters touches a cathartic and adrenaline-racing nerve, placing you in the passenger seat of the lives of these incredible women, whose persistence and charisma makes for naturally kinetic viewing.
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