From the Back of the Room


A great documentary looking at the role women have played in the U.S. punk rock scene, going back to the early 80s with folk like author Cynthia Connolly (Banned In DC) through the days of places like Gillman Street and ABC-No Rio and onward past the Riot Grrrl movement and into the present scene. And though the film might be touted by some as a “riot grrl” doco, Bikini Kill and their ilk don’t actually make an appearance until halfway through the film.

Director Amy Oden hasn’t limited herself to musicians either with promoters, photographers, zinesters and others getting a chance to talk about what they brought to the scene as well (Chris Boarts-Larson (slug & lettuce) and graphic artist Cristy Road amongst them). It ain’t just music either with politics, race, motherhood, violence, sexuality and image all getting discussed and dissected, making for a film that is sure to create discussion, argument and finger pointing. And for me one of the more interesting thing to come out of it is the fact that for many of the women, the Riot Grrrl movement was seen as just a continuation of the ‘white middle class domination’ of the punk scene anyhow, only the sex changed!

It was also interesting to see how in the early scene, the girls were mainly vocalists in male backed bands but then gradually we see more musicians before all girl line ups start to appear. Had me wondering, was that just a confidence thing or the boys own club losing its hold? Whatever happened, it is an interesting thing to note.

There’s a stack of bands here too, Bruise Violet, Tribe 8, Red Thread, Condenada, Witch Hunt, Naked Aggression, War Torn, Sick Fix, Faggot, the list goes on. A work of obvious love and with some great points raised, this film left this dumb ass working class hetero white boy wondering about a lot of things I take for granted when it comes to the ‘equality’ of the scene as well as giving me a stack of new bands to search for. Now that is what a good doco is supposed to do ain’t it? And this is a good doco.

See, this is a film not about a ‘movement’ but a lifestyle and whether you are male or female, straight, gay or bisexual, if punk rock, DIY and the freedoms it was supposed to give us mean anything to you, you will want to see this flick. Hunt it down.

DIRECTOR(S): Amy Oden | COUNTRY: USA | YEAR 2011 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): From the Back of the Room | RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 1:33:1 | REGION: All / NTSC | DISCS: 1

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