The words Palestine, women and racing car drivers don’t often appear together in the same sentence, and if they do one would imagine them appearing alongside the line “would never happen”. But in 2009 the ‘speed sisters’ were formed; a team of five Islamic women whose passion is driving fast cars in competition with men and with each other.
This recently released documentary follows the team’s exploits in their home country, covering the challenges they face in breaking away from cultural expectations and tradition. One older gentleman claims at one point that while the ladies have performed well in what they do, he would never have permitted any of it if they were his daughters; instead preferring women to get a respectable job and raise a family. Racing cars should be left to the men – a sentiment perhaps shared even in some circles in more liberal Western society.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a film overly concerned with parading gender inequality or shoving a political message down your throat. What we see is only what these women face in everyday life – within a region where gender inequality and bias are much more real than a social media fad – and not just them; but wider Palestinian society, the normal people who find themselves caught up in a region in seemingly constant conflict and trying to live a normal life despite it.
Here we see a side of this part of the world that mainstream media and general news coverage won’t show you. The whole experience of Speed Sisters is a wonderful breath of fresh air, only part of which has to do with the young women and fast cars at the centre of it.
9 / 10