Girls on Film had the pleasure of attending Cinemania’s screening of Sini Anderson’s The Punk Singer last week at Greenwich Picturehouse (which incidentally premiered on Film4 last night), and what a pleasure it was. We both left the screening gliding, trance-like, with that surreal feeling of having boundless potential. We felt empowered by not only the the documentary but the female-heavy crowd and engaging discussion that ensued afterwards.
The film follows the life of Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, key figure in the riot grrrl movement and all round feminist badass. We get to see, through old footage and recollections from old friends, how Hanna came to be who she was, what drove her to her strong beliefs and what grounded her in her music. The film poses the question at the start: what happened to Kathleen to make her stop performing? As we get to know this extraordinary extrovert we want to know all the more. In the end we find out about her battle with Lyme disease, which went undiagnosed for five years, and how she is coping with life now as it stands.
Often credited with helping launch third wave feminism in the 90s, what she believed in and stood for still rings true today, and the film only highlights the lack of legislative and social change in 20 years.
She went out there and she did what she had to do. She was truly a girls girl, emphasising that women need to stick together in order to form a cohesive movement, but also should not be afraid of having their own views and visions. She made it clear that everyone could have their own riot grrrl manifesto, and that there was no ownership of the movement. It belonged to everyone if the end goal was the same: equality and control over one’s own body.
The montage style and punchy musicality of editing helped enhance the vibrancy of the documentary. The ‘cut and paste’ formula very much reflected Hanna’s artistic style, from her early days as an art student, to her famous Julie Ruin record in ’98.
Walking into the cinema I knew little about Kathleen, but walking out only made me hungry for more. Her progression from edgy alternative to more mainstream never faltered her passion and outspoken importance.
Cinemania’s project is aimed at 12-24 year olds, hosting screenings, talks and all manner of film-related events in 12 cinemas around London. This was a great film to introduce us to the programme, as it seemed to encompass all the values of the project; encouragement of young people to be outspoken, creative and involved with film discussion and potentially programming. Cinemania is presented by Picturehouse and Film Hub London.
We also had the pleasure of hearing Sophie Monks Kaufman from LWL magazine talk about her experience of working in film journalism. If you haven’t ever had a chance to read this publication i suggest you try and get your hands on one. It’s a stylised, beautiful bi-monthly created by a team of journalists and designers, who focus each issue around one particular film, with all content and art inside and out relating to whichever film chosen. It is a true concept magazine, a work of art really.