The Punk Singer

One of the hidden benefits to attending all (or most...smile...) of the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival press screenings, is that I see films I would otherwise avoid. This documentary from the US is one of them.

Director Sini Anderson has accumulated press clips, performance footage, interviews and music industry know-how to create a story that took a 90° turn about two-thirds of the way in. We start with footage that introduces us to Kathleen Hanna, a frustrated girl who just wanted to be heard.

A clever advisor told her the best way was through music, not stories. The upshot was, she and some chums formed Bikini Kill, a punk rock group that enjoyed unexpected success, partly because she insisted the females in the audience be granted priority and treated with respect. As a part of the burgeoning music scene in the Pacific Northwest, she became friends with Joan Jett of The Runaways, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney.

We watch this girl (who helped originate the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s) grow into an intelligent woman of great beauty. As her stature changes, she becomes disenchanted with the way the press keeps trying to create dissension among female performers and finds herself extremely weary of touring.

Now the 90° turn. She is eventually diagnosed with Lyme Disease and we watch her struggles, bolstered by her wonderful husband Adam Horovitz of the Beasty Boys.

I have never been a fan of punk rock, but this story is wonderful.  Kudos to the cinematographers, Jennie Jeddry and Moira Morel. There are a couple of setups that were notable for their beauty and acute eye for color. The rating would probably be a PG-13 because our gal is articulate, well-behaved and doesn't have the potty mouth I would have expected.

I'm sorry I don't have a preview to share.