Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Film review: The Punk Singer

Reading Time: < 1 minutes

The Punk Singer is a film about Kathleen Hannah, a musician and feminist best known for her bands Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin.

By Dean Roberts, Socialist Party

Hannah shot to fame in early 1990s when she fronted Bikini Kill, a punk band that is widely recognised as pioneering the Riot Grrrl movement. Bands around the Riot Grrrl movement held radical feminist views and had a DIY ethic.

A number of well known musicians are interviewed in the film including Joan Jett and Kim Gordon. Many acknowledge her as someone who helped break new ground for women in rock music. She was also someone who helped popularise feminist ideas.

After Bikini Kill disbanded, Hannah continued to write political songs in her new group Le Tigre but she fell into inactivity around 2005. For many years Hannah battled illness and the frustration of not knowing what was wrong with her health. Eventually she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, something that she still struggles with today.

Directed by Sini Anderson this film is a personal story about Hannah but it also traces the development of a political trend in music that went on to influence thousands of people around the world.

The Punk Singer is available on DVD.


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