Mill Valley 2018
The story of the singer-songwriter and how her music fueled decades of activism.
Though beloved by and particularly influential to second wave feminists, Holly Near perhaps is not as well-known to the general public. Jim Brown’s biographical portrait provides a capable overview of the performer’s life, career, and impact, charting her development from aspiring young actress to folk musician and independent record label founder as the head of Redwood Records. A central focus of the film is how Near and her music served as a soundtrack to the social and cultural revolutions taking place in the 1970s, including the anti-war movement, feminism, and gay and lesbian liberation. Of particular note are Near’s participation in Jane Fonda’s Free the Army Tour, an anti-Viet Nam War variety show for soldiers modeled after Bob Hope’s USO Tour; her public coming out as a lesbian in People Magazine and the unapologetic same-sex focus of some of her songs, often performed in women-only concerts, creating a space for a legion of newly visible lesbian fans; and her later championing of the voices of South American women.