A documentary about punk rocker, and one of the more pivotal Riot Grrrl voices, Kathleen Hanna.
Sini Anderson’s documentary covers the life of Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and tells the story of her rise to prominence, her role in the Riot Grrrl movement and her trials and tribulations during her journey through battling for women as an ardent feminist and dealing with her own personal issues.
By focusing mostly on Hanna and her private life, director Sini Anderson skirts over one of the most important and overlooked moments in punk history: the Riot Grrrl movement.
The film lightly touches on the politically fueled, confrontational underground feminist movement. Perhaps this was the biggest takeaway from the doc, particularly for those who had never heard of Kathleen Hanna prior to seeing the film. But, as a singular subject, Kathleen Hanna is invigorating and never not interesting.
From her beginnings as a feminist artist in college, to starting Bikini Kill and making it a political voice that was aggressively pro-woman, to her infamous lo-fi Julie Ruin record, to the fun, yet just as intense in a different way, Le Tigre, Hanna’s story is fascinating and an ardent case for the freeness and power of art and music.
When the doc shifts gears to cover Hanna’s retirement from music in 2005 to discuss the illness she’s been dealing with, you feel her pain. That seems to be the point.
Throughout her career you’ve felt her pain, and as much as she’s been a voice for a lot of people–as evidenced by the cover bands dedicated to her music–there have been many who have been a voice for her.
The intimate interviews of the different women–musicians, writers and bandmates–speak with such reverence for her that you can see her impact in their faces.
If nothing else, this film succeeds in selling why Kathleen Hanna and the Riot Grrrl movement mattered. Hopefully, someday soon we can have something that truly gives that moment the time and attention it deserves.
The Punk Singer opens in select theaters on Friday, December 13.