By Rob Edelman.
SPEED SISTERS, an eye-opening documentary that has just been released theatrically here in the U.S., opens with a familiar sight… if you are a racing fan. Drivers rev their engines, just before maneuvering their vehicles onto a racetrack. But there is something different here, something unusual and, to my mind, something extra-special. The drivers all are female, and they are Palestinian.
Collectively, these women have found their calling– and that calling is racing cars in competitions and winning those competitions. These young women are friends and teammates who participate in races sponsored by the Palestinian Motor Sports and Motorcycle Federation. Early on, Maysoon, the team captain, notes that it’s “uncommon to see girls racing anywhere in the world,” but she quickly adds, not without pride, that she and her fellow drivers “are the first women’s racing team in the Arab world.”
In SPEED SISTERS, filmmaker Amber Fares offers portraits of Maysoon and her teammates. Collectively, they are a spirited group who love cars, love driving, love competition. Some primarily race to win while others do so mostly for fun and, happily, the majority of racing fans who show up at their competitions are male. And all are supportive. Indeed, any male who might vehemently protest the presence of women behind the wheel and women who are competing against men is absent from the film. Yet in some of its best moments, SPEED SISTERS transcends the sporting world, offering a peek into everyday life in one-too-many parts of the Middle East. No explanation is needed to accompany images of children who are surrounded by soldiers with machine guns as they head off to or from school.
On one level, there is a universal quality to the drivers in that there are generational differences between them and their parents or grandparents, or they are the recipients of unconditional love and support from their families. They easily might be the young adults who are your next door neighbors, in that they are concerned with dressing fashionably or acknowledge their dreams and hopes regarding meeting the right guy and falling in love. But what separates them is crystal-clear when one of them casually observes: “The smell of teargas reminds me of my childhood.”
What I admire about films like SPEED SISTERS is that they allow me entrée into worlds and cultures that are unfamiliar. I observe people whom I normally would never get to meet, and I can learn about their lives, their lifestyles, their issues, their hopes. And what more can one ask for in a documentary?
Now available on ITunes, learn more here http://speedsisters.tv/