‘Speed Sisters’ Of The West Bank: Documentary Chases After The First All-Female Race car team in the Mideast

By Jeffrey Fleishman
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Filmmaker Amber Fares documentary “Speed Sisters” features the spirit and strength of five female race car drivers in the Middle East.

Los Angeles Times

They rev their engines and race on a battered land.

They are five Palestinians in what’s billed as the first all-female race car team in the Middle East.

They roar beyond checkpoints of Israeli soldiers and zip through the glare of religious conservatives who curse their humming pistons and blowing hair. Shifting gears and beating clocks, they are restless souls in a sequestered world that cannot contain their visions.

They are the Speed Sisters of the West Bank. Male competitors have accepted them in a culture where tradition and patriarchy run rigid and deep. The young women have also grown up with the pop of Israeli tear gas and the whistle of stones hurled by Palestinian youths. They fix their makeup and paint their nails because, as Betty, one of the swiftest among them, says, “it’s very important for me to show I’m not a tomboy.”

Amber Fares has captured their spirit, victories, rivalries and defeats in her documentary “Speed Sisters.”

The film moves past the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict and into the lives of five women with fuel-injected dreams. The trappings of the region are inescapable, razor wire, barricades, gunfire, but the film’s Palestinian women, at least those in the West Bank, are more fully realized than the repressed portrayals of Arab mothers and daughters common in the West.

“There’s a tendency for us to paint the Middle East with broad brushes,” said Fares, whose film is available on iTunes.

“Palestinian woman have been involved in social movements throughout history. They were active in the intifadas. The U.S., especially, now really needs to see the nuances. Things besides terror, (Islamic State) and what we’re exposed to so many times. I think the film breaks a lot of stereotypes.”

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