Accepted Paper:

Women in Sink (Documentary Film)  


Iris Zaki (Royal Holloway University of London)

Paper short abstract:

In a Christian Arab hair-salon in Israel, the director installs a camera over the washing-basin, where she converses with the clients she is shampooing – Arab and Jewish women - on politics, life and love.

Paper long abstract:

Director: Iris Zaki, 2015, UK, Hebrew with English subtitles, 36 minutes.


The northern Israeli city of Haifa is home to Fifi's, a popular hair salon. Like many of her clients, Fifi, the owner, is an Arab Christian, but her loyal clientele also includes many Jewish women. Although they may live separately elsewhere in the country, Jews, Muslims and Christians all come together in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of this local melting pot. The Israeli filmmaker Iris Zaki placed her camera above the basin where the clients enjoy a head massage, and then asked them questions about their lives and the current political situation. They come from different generations and backgrounds, and their opinions about life in Haifa and Israel vary widely, but what they have in common is their genuineness, candor, humanity and gender. The static, minimal close-ups keep the focus on the subject - on the tough, wise and often hope-filled stories. In between the conversations, the sequences showing the salon's goings-on offer a lighter note. In the end, even Zaki lays her own head in the basin, confiding that directing the film made her feel hopeful as well. The further we're removed from politics, the easier it gets to live together.

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