In the West Bank, there’s a team of Palestinian women racecar drivers, and the documentary Speed Sisters chronicles a racing season with them. That’s putting it as simply as I can, because there is A LOT more happening.
Let’s start with the where. As you can probably imagine, there aren’t a ton of great roads in the West Bank. A lot of them are covered with rubble from 70 years of war, and others have walls down the middle because Israel needed part of them. There aren’t even a lot of paved open spaces—people are packed pretty tightly into the West Bank. Municipalities have to set aside parcels for racing practice, which means aspiring racecar drivers have to show a compelling civic need for the sport, which they do, because everybody recognizes the need to rally behind something. But then sometimes Israeli troops block access to driving spaces and fire teargas canisters at the drivers.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that this team consists solely of women. The Speed Sisters are the first all-female team in the Middle East. They’re a small team, and unfortunately, there’s some infighting and personal dramas that take up time in Speed Sisters that should have been spent burning rubber and kicking ass. Besides, the fact that they’re women is just one of a thousand hurdles they face to compete in this sport in Palestine—any group of people doing hard things in such an impossible system is mind-boggling to me, and it’s astonishing that this happens at all.
Have I mentioned this movie also has fast cars? It does! Vroom vroom! Speed Sisters is a cool and interesting peek into the racing world that will inform you of Middle East politics while you wait for the next Fast & Furious movie. Cars are fun, but so are politics.