An uplifting documentary showing Arab and Jewish women discussing politics while having their hair washed in a Haifa hair salon has won a prestigious film award.

Iris Zaki, director of The Shampoo Summit, received the Innovation Award at the Arts and Humanities Research in Film Awards, held at BAFTA in London on Thursday.

The Jewish film-maker spent one month in a Haifa hair salon owned by a Christian Arab, after wanting to know more about the Arab community she lived next to.

She says: “The decision to film in Haifa was a natural choice for me, since it’s my hometown – where my identity begins, with a father who came from Egypt and a mother whose parents, Holocaust survivors, came from Poland. “

Zaki,who is currently completing a PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, adds: “I moved between the desire to get to know Arab citizens in person and a passion to explore my own identity through these encounters and between my instinctive fear when I hear Arabic, which is the result of growing up in Israel, and the guilt I carry towards a community which I believe was, and still is, treated unequally. “

Filmed by a fixed, unmanned camera, installed over the washing basin, the film is an honest and surprising glimpse into contemporary Israel.

Zaki, who has won several awards including Best Student Documentary Grierson 2016 prize, says: “I went to Haifa to make a film about Arab women, expecting to hear about their difficulties in Israel. I ended up with a different film: within a complex reality, I’ve found a story of friendship, acceptance and respect between Arab and Jewish women. A little island of sanity.”