The Punk Singer

Film Review by David McGinty | 19 May 2014
  • The Punk Singer
Film title: The Punk Singer
Director: Sini Anderson
Starring: Kathleen Hanna, Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon
Release date: 23 May
Certificate: 15

Kathleen Hanna claims she started a band because no one ever listened to her. It’s safe to say that changed with Bikini Kill. The Punk Singer takes us back to the era when manifestos were spread in underground fanzines. Although renowned for her chameleonic success with acts as diverse as Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and for her incredible lo-fi solo record, Julie Ruin, it is Hanna’s reputation as a feminist that forms the through line of her biography.

Countless peers – musicians and activists – recount Hanna’s role in the formation of the riot grrrl movement, her inspiring presence, and the novel social experiment ‘girls to the front’, which saw violent mosh pits reclaimed as safe areas for women to attend gigs without being molested. Sini Anderson’s film doesn’t present its subject as an icon; instead it humanises Hanna and empowers its audience. It’s a perfect representation of one of the founding riot grrrls, who connected young women in disparate bedrooms with each other using ideas, ‘zines, and record players. [David McGinty]