The title of movie, Women in Sink, is a clever pun, intended to show how similar the women are who frequent a hair salon. Let me add another water related quote from Rumi: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.” On one hand the entire movie is based on deliberate mental comparisons. Iris Zaki, the 36 minutes long film’s director and writer (and ladies’ junior hairwasher) shows the heads of women after women in the same position, in the sink, as their hair is getting washed. As there is nothing else to look at than the same sink with various human heads interchanging in it we, the viewers, make the strong connection that we humans are all the same, despite our apparent differences, such as religion, ethnicity or language.
On the other hand this limited view forces us to listen harder to what the women have to say, hence the viewing experience becomes a compare and contrast exercise. Despite their obvious differences even their words end up being similar to each other. Yes, we get to know individual paths of lives. But at the end a basic theme emerges: every single one of them has the same want: a simple, happy life.
Back to Rumi: These women formed a community, whether they knew it or not. The filmmaker sometimes tried to set them up by asking provocative questions. The women almost always answered and through their honesty what came through time after time was that they were wise for not falling for it. Strong emotions not withstanding their perspective always focused on their individual livies and rarely let history and politics interfere with it more than it had to. They were all their own “oceans” (in a black sink).
There are enough shots of the inside of, the neighborhood of, and the workers in the hair salon, that the movie doesn’t get monotonous. My curiosity for technical details was also satisfied in the last shot that shows the disassembling of the gear that allowed to take the interesting overhead shots. After watching this movie I felt like its subjects were feeling too after their treatments: refreshed and optimistic.
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- Summary: It is the story of a little hair salon in the heart of the Arab community in Haifa (Israel); it is the story of a friendship between Arab and Jewish women in the city, which is considered a model of coexistence; and it is the story of Iris, the director, who worked as a hair washer at the salon so she could get to know women of the neighbourhood. Through her interaction with the women, in this unique frame, Iris wishes to tell the story of the community from the personal experience of the film’s subjects, and to explore what it reflects of Israeli society.
* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.
** Crossposted at jewishfilmfestivals.org