The Punk Singer

Kathleen Hanna
The Punk Singer

Directed by Sini Anderson
Starring Kathleen Hanna

by Joanna Orland

This film is purely for the fans of Riot Grrrl founder / Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna.  And what a great soundtrack!  People not familiar with the feminist movement Riot Grrl or Hanna’s music could still appreciate this documentary, assuming they have a fondness for the 1990’s.  This film about the singer takes us back to the start of her career through clips, interviews, and most importantly the music.

Interviews with Kathleen herself are the most revealing.  A vulnerable side to the notoriously stern and stubborn woman came through as she revealed her story to the camera, and even her emotions.  This film mostly focuses on her youth and musical foundation with punk band Bikini Kill and how she was a contributing factor to both feminism and alternative music making it into the mainstream.  Her relationships with other bands of the time including Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney and her husband Adrock’s band The Beastie Boys are all prominently featured.  And then she met Johanna Fateman.

After emotionally broken from her days in Bikini Kill, she met Johanna Fateman through Jo’s Riot Grrrl fanzine.  They instantly became best friends and the inspiration for Le Tigre was ignited.  JD Samson was asked to join them and the rest is history.  Eventually Kathleen decided to quit making music and retract herself from the spotlight.  There are some genuinely touching interview clips of her admitting her stubbornness wasn’t helping anyone, least of all herself, and she discusses her illness which she was eventually diagnosed with.  She is an inspiration not only to girls and women, but to people who want to have a voice and be heard.  It’s good to have her back on the music scene and on screen in this revealing, touching and inspiring documentary.

Revisit the Loose Lips interview with Le Tigre.

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