About: An exploration of gender inequality in the electronic music world.
Electronic dance music, or EDM, has long been wildly popular around the world, attracting millions of fans, particularly at concert and festivals. As demonstrated in Stacey Lee’s illuminating and well-produced film, however, it has been overwhelmingly dominated by straight white men – despite the contributions of women and people of color both historically and in the present day. Focusing primarily on gender inequality, the doc offers significant statistical and anecdotal evidence to show how women have rarely been booked at festivals or recognized on tastemakers’ lists, perpetuating a chauvinistic, self-fulfilling status quo cycle of marginalization. Lee’s project is decidedly survey in approach, which permits her to profile a broad range of female DJs, performers, and pioneers, but at the same time limits her to only providing brief sketches when some figures clamor for more development. Still, the project fulfills its mission as an informative call to action, for the already converted and the uninitiated alike.
Coming to select theatres, virtual cinemas, and VOD today, Friday, March 5: STRAY
Director: Elizabeth Lo
World Premiere: Tribeca 2020 (unscreened)
Select Festivals: DOC NYC, Hot Docs, London, Bergen, RIDM, Stockholm, San Diego Asian
About: A dogs’-eye view of Istanbul.
The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read: In Istanbul, stray dogs are an everyday part of the fabric of the community, belonging to no one and everyone at the same time. Among them are the expressive, independent Zeytin; the friendly Nazar; and the shy puppy, Kartal. But the Turkish city is home to human strays as well, as Zeytin and her friends bond with a trio of young Syrian refugees. Elizabeth Lo’s assured feature debut tracks the canines through the city’s streets, capturing their experiences and generating deep empathy without resorting to simple anthropomorphism.
About: A chronicle of the controversial anti-Vietnam War political vaudeville tour of American military bases, fronted by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland.
Restored and re-presented with a new introduction by Jane Fonda providing essential context, Francine Parker’s scrappy if somewhat shambolic film initially ran for only a week in its original release before public outrage removed it from theatres. The doc follows the FTA show – its initials standing for either “Free the Army” or “Fuck the Army,” depending on how riled up the performers got – a 1970s agitprop collective that was developed to support the sizeable and growing voice of anti-war soldiers. Obviously unable to play on military bases, the tour instead performed in towns just outside, drawing servicemen and women with explicitly anti-war messages – a deliberate alternative to Bob Hope’s jingoistic – and often sexist – USO tours. Parker’s film alternates between footage of the skits, songs, and spoken word performances by the likes of Fonda, Sutherland, Holly Near, and, especially, folk singer/civil rights activist Len Chandler, with vox pop interviews with disgruntled and straight-talking soldiers. Speaking frankly, as a film, it’s all a bit messy, but there’s no denying its energy and power, making the project and its reissue a worthwhile reminder of the activism that sprung up around the deeply unpopular Vietnam War – and the pivotal influence active military played in the anti-war movement.