Like a fanzine come to life, "The Punk Singer," directed by Sini Anderson, is a tender and totally absorbing documentary portrait of Kathleen Hannaâ€”beloved riot grrrl frontwoman of the bands Bikini Kill, The Julie Ruin and Le Tigre.
BUST gets a shout-out during an audio clip of an interview Gloria Steinem did with Hanna back in 2001. Carrie Brownstein, Tavi Gevinson, Joan Jett, and Kim Gordon provide additional analysis of Hannaâ€™s story, sharing endearing and sometimes infuriating anecdotesâ€”like the mediaâ€™s offensive response to Bikini Killâ€™s 1991 pro-choice rally show (which led to the band doing a total press blackout). The movie also features a history lesson by Jennifer Baumgardner and Rebecca Walker on the different waves of feminism, which should propel this doc onto every Womenâ€™s Studies syllabus next year.
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein
The most moving scenes focus on Hannaâ€™s relationship with her husband, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, especially when heâ€™s by her side as she returns to the stage with her band, The Julie Ruin, after a debilitating illness. More than a fluffy biography, this film is a provocative story about resilience, the feminist movement, and how far we still have to go. â€“anna bean