Well, not at SIFF anyways. I always look forward to the festival’s music documentaries (which are conveniently grouped together by mood—“Face the Music” in this year’s event guide), and this year I noticed a common theme in the films that caught my eye: they’re all about PUNK in some shape or form.
If you love punk music, or are just curious about this multifarious musical movement, here are three must-see films that span several decades of punk history (and even continents!). We’ve also included suggestions of related books, films and music in The Seattle Public Library’s collections that you should check out if you like these movies. Enjoy!
A Band Called Death (USA, 2012) Before The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, before Bad Brains and Fishbone, there was Death, three black brothers from Detroit who mixed funk and Stooges-inspired rock to form a whole new sound. Virtually unknown for decades, their music is now gaining a wider audience thanks to a recent release of their original singles (found languishing in the family attic!) by the label Drag City entitled For the Whole World to See. If you loved last year’s Searching for Sugar Man, you must see this film!
The Punk Singer (USA, 2013) Kathleen Hanna, the titular punk singer and member of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, was one of the most recognizable voices of the early 1990s Riot Grrrl movement. Directed by Sini Anderson, co-founder of the pioneering feminist spoken word collective Sister Spit, this documentary features interviews with Joan Jett, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, and many others, including Hanna herself. For more on Hanna and Riot Grrrl, check out Sara Marcus’ excellent history, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Russia, 2013) The arrest and subsequent imprisonment of members of Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk-art collective, galvanized artists, musicians and activists around the world last year. Learn more about the infamous “Punk Prayer,” which triggered their arrest, by watching this film and checking out Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom.