Girls Rock! (2007, Arne Johnson and Shane King)
During the summer of 2005, two male filmmakers (Arne Johnson and Shane King) ventured into the very female world of rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls - a one week program in Portland, OR for eight to eighteen year olds to learn how to rock their hearts out with instruments and roll into supreme self-confidence.
The purpose of both the documentary and the camp itself is to set a positive example for girls who are growing up in the putrid pop era of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Kelly Clarkson - gals who reinforce all the negative stereotypes that the likes of PJ Harvey, Alanis Morrisette, and Fiona Apple tried so hard to eliminate in the previous musical generation. In the one week they’re at the camp, girls are given the learning tools of not only how to read music and play a guitar properly, but are also taught the connotations of the self-image and how important it is to have a good one. The gals’ are educated on confidence (how to use your physical space and voice), self-defense techniques (no means no!), women’s history (the great female rockers of the past), and the value of female community (how to interact with other women on a non-bitchy level). At the end of the camp, all of these ideas culminate into one concert where all of the bands formed at the camp perform in front of hundreds of people.
The filmmakers utilize statistics on young women (which all basically sum up to - girls are in trouble!), interviews with the amazing camp counselors (all women), and one-on-one discussions with the female protagonists themselves - Laura (age 15), Misty (age 17), Amelia (age 8), and Palace (age 7) to show us the utter positivity the camp bestows for young girls everywhere. All of these girls are bright, spritely, and talented young women who definitely experience positive outcomes because of the ideas taught to them at camp. Their music is heart-felt, in-your-face, and often funny - my favorite song was created by Palace and it's entited "San Francisco Sucks!" By focusing on four distinct girls with varied backgrounds within a camp full of hundreds, the documentary further proves how important it is for young women to have the skills rock ’n’ roll camp sets-up because it clearly shows that all women are being affected by the poor state of femininity in the media in one way or another.
By acting as a catalyst for all of fury being built up by young women everywhere, Girls Rock! really and truly succeeds in its mission to help give young girls the minds -- and voices to enter the world of female adulthood with a clear-minded perspective on how to be an empowered woman.
I simply cannot ask for more.
Since 2005, rock ‘n’ roll camp has branched out significantly. There are now camps all over the U.S. and there are more making their debut in Europe and South America. The documentary is making the rounds at festivals (I saw it at the Wisconsin Film Festival) and theatrical venues throughout the country. You can read more about it on their official website.
I can’t recommend this film highly enough. Girls Rock! is certainly my favorite female flick of 2008 thus far and I can’t wait to buy copies of the DVD for my nieces, cousins, and, of course, myself when it comes out in September. You can pre-order the DVD on the official website and, just so you know, all of the proceeds will go to female-driven charities.
Rock on, ladies!