At last a good documentary. And about women. I really enjoyed this Palestinian film. It follows five young, Palestinian women who compete in the male-dominated car racing scene. We meet Marah, Betty, Marsoon, Noor and Mona as they compete in a series of races to be the fastest women champion and also the chance to compete in Jordan. Although all five are competitive, it is Marah and Betty who are the key protagonists. They are the fastest two and winning the championship, we can see, means more than being in a team together.
All five women are engaging, we see their varied backgrounds and it gives us some insight into the social differences in Palestine. Betty is privileged whereas Marah’s family put all of their earnings in to buying her a car she can race. Marsoon and Noor have IDs that can get them straight through the checkpoint into Israel, where they can go to the beach and have so much more freedom than the other three. This is highlighted when Noor and Marah travel together to Jerusalem – Noor breezes through in her car and then waits an age for Marah to go through the checkpoint on foot.
There is joy in this film and the film maker has done well to bring forward the voice of each woman. The real delight is in the incidental scenes that fill in our understanding of their world: Marah talks about Ramadan and her youthful opinion on fasting; Marsoon visits the mosque to pray before she leaves Palestine; Betty is hit by tear gas as the only training ground they have is next to an Israeli military facility. There are a few lines that stay with me, Marsoon saying, as she passes a checkpoint during a ‘clash’, “The smell of teargas always reminds me of my childhood” and an online comment responding to criticism after Noor does an interview for Dubai television, “Knowing the Qu’ran, liberating Palestine and this girls talent are all important things.” A lovely, inspiring and thought-provoking film.