This year’s Film POP program is unquestionably defined by retrospectives and the untold stories of female icons. From an up-close look at the rise of rockstar Joan Jett to the hidden truths of funk pioneer Betty Davis, the presence of influential women is clearly highlighted in this year’s lineup. Despite the fact that the women featured in these particular documentaries were a part of different musical realms, what all of these films manage to contemplate is how an artist’s resurgence can function to re-contextualizes their work, and what it means to be truly timeless.
When thinking of musicians who’s works were remarkably ahead of their day, Lena Platonos comes to mind. While she has long been regarded as a household name within the Greek elec-tronica music scene, the artist has blown up internationally in the past few years thanks to album re-issues and remixes. The documentary film Lambda Pi (2018) backtracks to the early days of Lena’s music creation in the 80s, giving audiences a glimpse of her experimental process—one which has allowed her music to resonate with musicians in the electronic world and fans across generations.
Another artist who’s influence has withstood her absence in the public eye is that of Betty Davis. Betty: They Say I’m Different (2017) explores the mystery of the funk icon’s 30 year disappearance from the spotlight. Directed by Phil Cox, the film is based on years of conversations between Cox and Davis. Similar to Lambda Pi, the films takes us back to the early days of her career, revealing untold accounts of the most prominent voices of funk music.
Joan Jett is perhaps to Rock music what Betty Davis is to Funk, and Bad Reputation (2018) is the tribute that Rock & Roll icon Jett deserves. Having had to successfully navigate what was defined as the rock and roll “boys club” of the 70s, the film explores her challenges and triumphs from her years as the front woman of The Runaways, to her solo career with the Blackhearts. Co-presented by The Montreal Rock Camp for Girls and Nonconforming Youth at Film POP, the film is sure to continue to inspire young aspiring rockstars.
Having rose to success in 2015, Silvana Imam’s impact on the Norwegian hip hop scene and more broadly the global female rap movement cannot be ignored. Silvana (2017) follows the rise to fame of the Norwegian rapper, who’s music is radical and provocative, as she speaks out against homophobia, xenophobia, and the far right movement in Norway. When placed alongside the other documentary films about prominent female musicians, it becomes clear that Silvana, like Betty, Lena, and Joan, can inspire a new generation of artists, and like them, make significant contributions to music history in the face of opposing forces.
Check out the full Film POP Festival lineup here.
Watch the Film POP 2018 trailer below.