Speed Sisters




In Palestine four women under a female team manager set themselves up as racing drivers.


Feminists especially will be happy to note that this film showing five women asserting themselves in the largely male sphere of championship racing in Palestine on the West Bank’s professional circuit is itself the work of a woman. Amber Fares features as director, co-producer and as co-photographer (with Lucy Martens). What she brings to the screen here will undoubtedly have a special appeal to female viewers, but, even so, Speed Sisters is not as strong as many of the other recent releases from Dogwoof.


Speed Sisters


The film quite reasonably adopts a conventional format. It introduces us to four drivers, two of whom emerge as the central figures: one is the engaging Marah Zahalka whose father champions her and the other is Betty Saadeh who, born in Mexico but with Bethlehem as her home town, is the more adept at playing up to the media. However, the other two drivers, Noor Daoud and Mona Ali Ennab also make their mark, as does Maysoon Jayyusi who acts as their manager. Once the five are established with a certain amount of footage covering their family backgrounds, the film takes us through two seasons on the Palestine Motor Circuit leading to an event which looks set to establish either Marah or Betty as champion.


On one level this is reportage of general interest to anyone pleased to see women proving themselves in a male-dominated field (it is a man representing the racing federation who causes problems for our team). But at the same time Speed Sisters is a specific portrait of attitudes to women’s endeavours that apply in Palestine and the film additionally conveys what life is like in an area of conflict that makes air strikes and checkpoint controls common place. All of this might have yielded a really good film and, indeed, the women do come over well. But the fact is that Speed Sisters jumps around from one to another of them haphazardly, that there is a strong sense of a piece that would be fully at home on television and that, although this film lasts for only 78 minutes, one feels that an hour on the box would have been more appropriate to put over what it has to say. Nevertheless, those strongly drawn to this material may very well enjoy the film. 


MANSEL STIMPSON               


Featuring Marah Zahalka, Betty Saadeh, Maysoon Jayyusi, Noor Daoud, Mona Ali Ennab.


Dir Amber Fares, Pro Amber Fares, Avi Goldstein and Jessica Devaney, Story Advisor Jessica Devaney, Ph Amber Fares and Lucy Martens, Ed Rabab Haj Yahya.

A SocDoc Studios production/Chicken & Egg Pictures/Minerva Productions/Whitewater Films etc.-Dogwoof.
78 mins. USA/Palestine/Qatar/Denmark/UK. 2015. Rel: 25 March 2016. Cert. PG