• Text by HUCK HQ
Roller Derby Beirut — Huck’s latest film comes from Beirut, home to Lebanon’s first Roller Derby team, where a tightknit crew of female pioneers are determined to build something together.

Roller Derby is a fierce and physical contact sport, pioneered by women who aren’t afraid to defy conventions. From its resurgence in Austin, Texas, it has made its way around the world, cutting a bold line of resistance wherever it takes root.

But in Beirut, the home of Lebanon’s first Roller Derby team, that arc of defiance runs deeper than elsewhere. The young women who make up this remarkable crew are more than just pioneers; they’re architects of a new future.

All but two of the team’s regular members are studying at the American University of Beirut (AUB) as part of the MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders programme, an intensely competitive scholarship for brilliant, socially engaged students from politically volatile Arab nations. They’re studying with a purpose and bold intent: to return home as nation-builders and help bring their countries back from the brink.

Hadeel Al-Hubaishi is a 22-year-old Yemeni business student – known to her team mates as ‘Shiny Tiny’ – whose uncontrollable laughter at most Roller Derby Beirut training sessions belies her fighting spirit. Through her eyes, we come to see what life is like for a young woman like her, living in limbo between her war-torn home and new life in Beirut.

After supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s military attacks against the Houthi rebel movement in Northern Yemen, the US recently attacked the rebels with a barrage of cruise missiles fired from a US navy destroyer, intervening directly in Yemen’s devastating civil war for the first time.

While their families remain confined by conflict, and their homes become ravaged by war, Hadeel and her teammates are channelling all their energy into the promise of a better future, bolstered by their academic studies and the community spirit that they’ve fostered together.

The aim of roller derby is to lap your opponents, and physically block them from lapping you. But how do you keep going, both on and off the track, when your mind keeps flitting to what might be happening back at home?

Shiny Tiny is directed by Isabel Freeman and Andrea Kurland.

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