In war-torn Palestine five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated street car-racing scene. Brought together by a common desire to live life on their own terms, the Speed Sisters have joined the ranks of dozens of male drivers, shattering social barriers and gender stereotypes.
Amber Fares’ feature-lentgh documentary follows the Speed Sisters as each of the women navigate love, religion and family pressures while trying to be true to themselves in the face of a military occupation.
There’s Maysoon, the team’s manager, who looks out for the girls on and off the track; Marah, who was a racing champion at 19 and is driven to succeed by the desire to represent Palestine on the World stage; the glamorous and fierce Betty, who comes from a wealthy family of racers; the athlete Noor, the thrill-seeker struggling to find her way; and Mona, the free spirit of the group and one of the first female racers in Palestine.
They have many challenges to overcome: being accepted as female racing-cars drivers, training in improvised tracks (a vegetable market, an old helicopter pad, a security academy) and manually customise street cars to race.
Racing is an expensive sport. The sacrifices made by their families are huge. Marah’s father (and her biggest fan) delayed the purchase of land for a family home to buy her a car instead. “I grew up in a refugee camp and we couldn’t even afford food,” he said. “I was deprived of everything, but it won’t be the same for my kids. Why do I work day and night? It’s all for Marah.”
“It’s true that, when we first started, people looked at us as though we’d just landed from space,” says team’s manager Maysoon Jayyusi. “You prove that you are strong enough, not scared, that you can compete with the men,” she says. “And then it just becomes acceptable.”
The Speed Sisters documentary now available for download!
FILMAKER: Amber Fares
Award-winning documentary filmmaker and photographer. Her feature length directorial debut SPEED SISTERS premiered at Hot Docs in 2015 where it was one of the top 20 Audience Choice Awards, and won the Audience Award at the Irish Film Institute Festival.