Diving.ca: Canadian filmmaker documents all-female Palestinian racing team
By Laura Brehaut
Director Amber Fares is the first to admit that she knew absolutely nothing about racing before she met the Speed Sisters in late 2009. An Alberta-born filmmaker now living in Ramallah, Palestine, Fares was introduced to the first all-women racing team in the Middle East by a friend at the British consulate in Jerusalem. The consulate hired her documentary film company SocDoc Studios to create a program of video clips called “Speed Sisters.” At the time, there were two or three women racing an old donated BMW that they had souped up to get track-ready.
“We were involved in doing these clips and it wasn’t long before we were like, ‘Wow! This is really interesting. There’s a larger documentary here,’” Fares says. Her relationship with the team went on from there and she has been filming the Speed Sisters regularly for a feature-length documentary since the racing season started in March 2010.
Fares’ grandparents left Lebanon for Canada in the early 1900s and she thinks of herself as “100% Lebanese but 100% Canadian.” Her parents are both from Saskatchewan and she was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Her cultural background has helped when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with the women, as well as in filmmaking. “I have one foot in Arab culture and one foot in North American culture, which is advantageous for me in terms of a storyteller and it’s great in terms of dealing with these girls,” she says. “There’s a trust level there that was built a lot easier than if I were completely a foreigner coming in.”
Fares intends to tell a personal story with the film, not a political one. She feels that there are enough political stories being told about the region and that she can offer a different perspective through sharing the experiences of the racers. “Racing is the hook. People can identify with the idea of racing, and they can identify with what these girls want to do and some of the issues that they come across in their lives. They’re universal,” she says. “I think that’s a really great way for people to be introduced to this region and to want to understand what’s happening but I’m not out to make a political stance or political film.”